Physicians, dentists, and other medical professionals have historically been trained to treat the mouth as separate from the rest of the body. But science is uncovering more and more undeniable evidence that dental health is closely linked to whole-body health. In fact, as a pioneer of biological and holistic dentistry, Dr. Mark Breiner was recently asked to contribute a chapter to a new book for health professionals, as well as students who are pursuing degrees in healthcare.
Published in April, Nutritional and Integrative Strategies in Cardiovascular Medicine presents scientific and clinical information from experts in the field of cardiovascular medicine. Dr. Breiner’s chapter, “The Role of Dentistry in Cardiovascular Health and General Well-Being,” overviews the connection between dental and cardiovascular health. (This is an incredibly timely topic, as heart disease is the number one cause of death in America!)
For decades, the medical and dental communities have recognized the link between periodontal (gum) disease and cardiovascular problems. But many people are unaware that numerous “common” dental treatments and interventions—including root canal procedures, cavitations, and metals used in fillings—can also have a negative impact on the cardiovascular system.
In a nutshell, the mouth is a gateway through which many toxins and bacteria can enter the bloodstream. For instance, root-canal treated teeth provide an environment in which infection-causing toxins and bacteria can proliferate. Depending on the strength of the immune system, these toxins and bacteria may spread from the root canal-treated tooth through the bloodstream to the rest of the body. Studies show that this invasion and resulting inflammation can promote and/or exacerbate heart disease, as well as cause a myriad of health problems such as arthritis or neurological problems.
By looking at your mouth, an integrative dentist can identify important risk factors for heart disease. Chances are, he or she can also recommend a dental treatment protocol to help you decrease that risk—and perhaps even alleviate a pre-existing condition. So certainly, enlist your primary care provider and cardiologist in the fight to keep your heart healthy—but don’t forget to include your whole-body dentist on the team. Without the perspective of an informed dentist, you will be missing an essential component in maintaining optimal cardiovascular health.