As the Webmaster for a site dedicated to helping people save
money when they go to the dentist, I find myself having to
consistently fight two different and distinct battles; one
against the average American's reluctance to pay the high cost
of modern dental care and the other is the same American's
belief that seeing a dentist regularly just isn't that
The first battle I have a decent chance of winning but the
second battle I've had to throw my hands up in surrender; I
mean if someone doesn't care about their teeth enough to have
them taken care of by a dentist, what can I possibly say to
convince them otherwise?
How about this: "Did you know that your next visit to the
dentist could prevent a heart attack?"
Medical researchers have known for years now that there's a
definite link between gum disease (i.e. gingivitis) and person's
risk for heart disease. Evidence is mounting, however, that
information gleaned from a routine panoramic dental X-rays --
wide-angle frontal images taken to establish the baseline
condition of teeth and surrounding bone -- may serve as an
accurate early warning system of risk of dying from heart
attack or stroke.
According to researchers at the University of Buffalo School of
Dental Medicine, a study of 818 teeth and jaw X-rays of Pima
Indians in Arizona found that those who had a build-up of
calcified plaque in the carotid arteries were twice as likely
to die from heart attack or stroke. Normally, calcified plaque
is present in only about 3 percent of the general population.
An earlier study of 2,700 dental patients showed calcium
deposits on each side of the carotid arteries can be spotted
in X-rays of the teeth and jaw bone.
It makes sense that the dental X-rays would see the carotid
artery (which carries blood from the heart to the brain and
back) so dentists should be aware that it is a screening tool
for cardiovascular disease. If they see signs of calcification
in dental X-rays, they tell the patient to see his or her
doctor as soon as possible.
BOTTOM LINE: Most dental insurance plans allow you a yearly
dental exam at little or no cost, so schedule a complete
check-up -- including X-rays -- with your dentist as soon as
possible. If you don't have dental insurance, consider
enrolling in a discount dental plan that fits your budget
and then go see a dentist as soon as possible.