Tooth-Heart Connection . . . who knew?

Over the years we’ve re-posted from Carolyn Thomas’ blog Heart Sisters because they are always informative, well-researched and well written.  Her latest post on unusual pain that shows up in the mouth, jaw or face – what dentists call “orofacial pain” – can be a cardiac warning sign really caught my attention.  Here’s a few highlight but I recommend you reading the entire post and click here:

 https://myheartsisters.org/2018/04/01/dentist-diagnosing-cardiac-symptoms/

“Orofacial pain of cardiac origin is typically a toothache that occurs spontaneously, and is usually made worse with exercise (just as the chest pain of stable angina typically comes on with exertion, and eases up with rest).”

“Unlike a conventional toothache caused by dental issues, the tooth or jaw pain that’s linked to heart issues can decrease when the coronary vasodilator called nitroglycerin is taken, and can also occur at the same time along with chest, neck, shoulder or throat pain.”

“Researchers in Barcelona, for example, found that orofacial pain that’s actually heart-related – unlike toothache pain – you may feel the pain on both sides of the face. The lead author of the study explained that orofacial pain of cardiac origin is considered to be atypical, but present in up to 10% of all people during a heart attack, with or without chest pain.”
  • “When these orofacial pain of cardiac origin occur, unnecessary dental treatment is often performed
  • “There are published clinical cases of patients who have undergone unnecessary dental extractions or have been prescribed pain medications due to misdiagnosis, without curing the orofacial pain.
  • This leads to a delay in a cardiac diagnosis, and consequently, a delay in beginning necessary treatment.”

Looking into “Cavities” by Peggy

The signs suggesting that a toothache may be more than just a simple toothache include:

  • a burning or pulsing pain
  • a pain that goes into remission, or dramatically changes
  • a persistent pain during days or months
  • a spontaneous pain in multiple teeth
  • a pain that does not go into remission even after anaesthetic block (freezing)
  • lack of response to adequate dental treatment

Open wide! Cardiac symptoms diagnosed in the dental chair

Carolyn wrote more about both atypical cardiac symptoms and many other typical symptoms in Chapter 1 of her book, “A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease” (Johns Hopkins University Press, November 2017)

 

 

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