Science Doesn’t Support Link Between Gum Disease and Heart Disease

Science Doesn't Support Link Between Gum Disease and Heart DiseaseThe American Dental Association (ADA) Council on Scientific Affairs agrees with the conclusions of a recent report that current scientific evidence does not establish a direct cause and effect relationship between gum disease and heart disease or stroke.

Additionally, the evidence does not establish that gum disease increases the rate of heart disease or stroke.

The report, which examined 537 peer-reviewed studies on the subject, was published this month in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association.

Although there is a body of research showing that gum disease is associated with several health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes; just because two conditions are associated with each other does not mean that one causes the other. Both heart disease and gum disease share common risk factors, such as smoking and diabetes, which play a role in the development of both diseases.

The American Heart Association (AHA) report acknowledges the value of good oral hygiene to maintain good overall health but noted that current scientific data do not indicate whether regular brushing and flossing or treatment of gum disease can decrease the incidence of atherosclerosis, which is the narrowing of the arteries that can lead to cause heart attacks and strokes.

The ADA’s Council on Scientific Affairs, which is made up of ADA member dentists who are scientific experts, appointed a representative to the American Heart Association expert committee that developed the report. The ADA Council on Scientific Affairs then reviewed the report and agreed with its conclusions.

As a science-based organization, the ADA supports research on the risk, prevention, management and treatment of oral diseases, as well as research that helps clarify relationships that may exist between oral health conditions and systemic diseases. The ADA encourages patients to talk to their dentists about the role that good oral health plays in their overall health.

Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that support the teeth and is a major cause of tooth loss in adults.To avoid gum disease and maintain good oral health (including prevention of tooth decay or cavities), the ADA recommends the following to dental patients:

  • Brush teeth twice a day with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste.
  • Clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner.
  • Eat a balanced diet, limit between-meal snacks.
  • Visit a dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams.

What are your thoughts on the recent reports that gum disease is related to heart disease?  Have you noticed this with your dental patients?

SOURCE: AHA statement: No causative link found between periodontal disease and heart disease. For more information about the ADA, visit the Association’s website at www.ada.org

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