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Professional Dental Cleanings May Reduce Risk of Heart Attack, Stroke

Papers were presented at The American Heart Association meeting in Orlando, Florida that heart attack and stroke risk were reduced by professional dental cleanings. These announcements aren’t the first studies to make these conclusions, but they are obviously welcomed with open arms by the oral-systemic healthcare community.

On November 13, 2011, researchers released reports of research in two separate studies with the following study highlights:

• Taiwan study finds that patients who had professional tooth scraping and cleaning had reduced risks of heart attack and stroke.
• More frequent scraping/cleaning was associated with more reduced risk compared to occasional or never tooth scraping/cleaning
• In a separate study from Sweden, the type of periodontal disease predicted degree of risks for heart attack, stroke and heart failure.

In a study followed for an average of seven years, professional tooth scaling was associated with fewer heart attacks and strokes in a study from Taiwan. Among more than 100,000 people, those who had their teeth scaled by a dentist or dental hygienist had a 24 percent lower risk of heart attack and 13 percent lower risk of stroke compared to those who had never had a dental cleaning. None of the participants had a history of heart attack or stroke at the beginning of the study.

Lead researcher Dr. Chen reported that the risk reduction was greatest for those people who receive periodontal therapy at least once a year, noting that these treatments appear “to reduce inflammation-causing bacterial growth that can lead to heart disease or stroke”.

In a separate study reported, the type of periodontal disease one has predicts degree fo risk for heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.

Researches found that the value of markers for gum disease predict heart attack, congestive heart failure and stroke in different ways and to different degrees. Dr. Holmlund, dentist researcher at the Centre for Research and Development of the County Council of Gävleborg, Sweden, and senior consultant; Specialized Dentistry, studied 7,999 participants with periodontal disease and found people with:

• Fewer than 21 teeth had a 69 percent increased risk of heart attack compared to those with the most teeth.
• A higher number of deepened periodontal pockets (infection of the gum around the base of the tooth) had a 53 percent increased risk of heart attack compared to those with the fewest pockets.
• The least amount of teeth had a 2.5 increased risk of congestive heart failure compared to those with the most teeth.
• The highest incidence of gum bleeding had a 2.1 increased risk of stroke compared to those with the lowest incidence.

Will these findings help dentists and physicians to see their way more clearly to co-manage their mutual patients with periodontal disease and heart disease? Or at least are at risk for one or both? Time will tell, but certainly those professionals who appreciate this information and are following the emerging science, will use this information to improve patient care and build stronger professional referral relationships.

To see the full report on the AHA website, click here.