A study observed more than 100,000 people, none of whom had a history of heart attack or stroke at the beginning of the study, over a period of seven years in Taiwan. The study suggested that those people who got their teeth professionally cleaned at least twice or more in two years had significantly lower risk of developing cardiovascular diseases like heart attack or a stroke.
The findings which were presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2011 stated that people who got their teethed scaled by a dentist had 13 percent less chance of stroke and ran as much as 24 percent lower risk of heart attack, compared to people who never had had a dental cleaning done by a certified dental hygienist or dentist.
The study had included more than 51,000 adults who had undergone teeth scaling partially or fully, at least once a year. The study also included an equal number of adults who had never got their teeth cleaned professionally. The study did not make any adjustments for cardiovascular disease risk factors such as smoking, ethnicity/ race or weight factors.
As per Emily (Zu-Yin) Chen, M.D., cardiology fellow at the Veterans General Hospital in Taipei, “Protection from heart disease and stroke was more pronounced in participants who got tooth scaling at least once a year. Professional tooth scaling appears to reduce inflammation-causing bacterial growth that can lead to heart disease or stroke.”
Another study conducted on approximately 8,000 participants by Dr. Holmlund, dentist researcher at the Centre for Research and Development of the County Council of Gävleborg, Sweden, showed that the type of periodontal (gum) disease is a good predictor of the degree of risk one has of heart attack and heart failure, as well as stroke.
The study went on to give very specific numbers of periodontal bad spots and the probability attached to the numbers, such as:
People having fewer than 21 teeth had an increased risk by 69 percent of having a heart attack than those who have most of their teeth.
A larger number of infected pockets in the gum 53 percent increased risk of heart attack compared to those with the fewest pockets.
Those with the least amount of teeth were approximately 2.5 times more at risk of developing congestive heart failure when compared to those who had the most teeth.
The highest incidence of gum bleeding had a 2.1 increased risk of stroke.
However, more research needs to be done to come to definitive conclusions for this new science.
What is important though, is that it is time health care providers look at the relationship between oral health and risk of cardiovascular diseases.