HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Merit Health Wesley's Cardiologist Dr. Dan Skarzynki said there is a bigger connection to oral health.
"It's more than just fresh breath and a sweet smile," Skarzynski said.
Skarzynski said oral health has a lot to do with matters of the heart.
"If you have an infection in your gums, that can lead to the development of plaque in your heart or neck vessels causing a stroke," Skarzynski said.
He said it all has to do with how your body responds to fighting an infection.
"Those same agents that are fighting bacteria can enter the vessel and go on to form plaque," Skarzynski said.
He explained those fighting agents can be toxic to the inside of your blood vessels. Skarzynski said that he would suggest patients with artificial valves take antibiotics before a dental procedure just in case bacteria enters the bloodstream.
"If you have normal valves the likelihood to see that or get bacteria to grow on a valve is very tiny, and not worth to the general population getting antibiotics," Skarzynski said. But, if you have an artificial valve or certain types of valve disorders then an antibiotic before hand would be necessary."
He said the health of your teeth and gums should be monitored just like your blood pressure or cholesterol when it comes to heart health.
"I would look at that almost as a risk factor, like the other known risk factors, and make sure you are following up with your dentist for good dental health," Skarzynski said.