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Under the Hood: Halitosis – Another Sign of a Heart Attack?

Often patients come into our offices complaining of halitosis. But is there a link between halitosis and heart disease?

The traditional way of treating this condition would have been to give the patient a breath mint or mouthwash and not think anything else about it. But nowadays treatment is much more involved than that. In the dental community, we all know of “perio breath.” With the recent correlation to high serum C-Reactive Protein levels, coronary heart disease and periodontitis, this diagnosis should lead a practitioner to make the correlation between halitosis and heart disease and to factor in the other traditional signs of periodontal disease, such as plaque, visible calculus, gingival inflammation, gingival bleeding, suppuration at the periodontal ligament and unexplained exodontia.

Periodontal disease is very often not painful, so the patient will not know that anything is wrong until they begin to lose their teeth. Therefore, it is up to a practitioner, any practitioner, to identify this condition. If your patient presents with any of these signs, refer them for a comprehensive periodontal examination. The mouth can truly be a window to see the overall health of the patient. It is well worth looking “under the hood” – for your patient’s sake.

By Dr. Justin Clemens, DDS, Perimeter Periodontics

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