Oral Health and Heart Health: Gums and Heart Risk

Heart health

The repetitious slogan of dental professionals around the world, “oral health is important”, doesn’t get much attention these days. According to a new study from Columbia University in New York, oral health might actually be a major factor in heart health. Gum care might just be one of the most important elements in fighting off heart disease.

This should get people’s attention:

IMT measures suggest that better gum health and reducing bacteria linked to periodontal disease correlates to slower progression of atherosclerosis

Oral healthSo, what does this mean for the public at large? The dentist mantra “oral health improves overall health” is even more powerful than once thought. This research study was conducted with multiple control groups and didn’t fluctuate when markers such as BMI, cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking were introduced.

This is not the first study of its kind. Oral health and heart health were linked again in 2010 by a group of UK researchers. The university of Bristol, in conjunction with Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, discovered that bacteria from the gum that often causes oral health issues can escape from the mouth into the bloodstream. This bacteria can actually increase risks of clots that bring on heart attacks.

Professor of Oral Microbiology at Bristols School of Oral and Dental Science Dr. Howard Jenkinson had this to say,

Poor dental hygiene can lead to bleeding gums, providing bacteria with an escape route into the bloodstream, where they can initiate blood clots leading to heart disease.”

This study, in conjunction with the Columbia University study, make a fairly secure case for the linking of oral health and hygiene with heart health. Panos N. Papapanou, professor at Columbia’s College of Dental Medicine, the co-author of the Columbia study said,

Our results show a clear relationship between what is happening in the mouth and thickening of the carotid artery, even before the onset of full-fledged periodontal disease. This suggests that incipient periodontal disease should not be ignored.”

Periodontist experts like Dr. Mario Iraheta at Biscayne Dental Center in North Miami provide services that clean gums and prevent gum disease. Although such experts have long correlated oral health with overall health, these recent studies can now be pointed to as proof positive. Oral health and hygiene might just be one of the most important elements in heart health and overall health.

People might just begin listening to dental professionals when the mantra “oral health is important” is spoken.