A connection between gum disease and heart problems has been suspected for a while. In April, a study published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology pointed to such a connection. Patients in the study all had some form of heart disease and a large number of them also reported having symptoms of gum disease.
The goal of the study, called the Stabilization of Atherosclerotic Plaque by Initiation of Darapladib Therapy, or STABILITY, wasn’t to look at the connection between heart disease and gum disease. Instead, the study was examining whether or not patients with existing heart disease were less likely to suffer an event, such as a stroke or heart attack, if they were on the drug darapladib.
The gum disease connection was found through a survey taken by 98 percent of the patients in the study, or more than 15,000 people from 39 countries. Questions on the survey asked people about their oral care routine, how many teeth they had left, and about their lifestyle habits.
According to the results, nearly 41 percent of the respondents reported that they had fewer than 15 teeth left in their mouths. Sixteen percent of those who responded had no teeth left. About a quarter of participants stated that they had some amount of gum bleeding, too.
The study examined the relationship between a patient’s oral health state and a number of factors. For example, smoking increased the likelihood that a patient would have bleeding gums or some lost teeth. Patients with bleeding gums were also more likely to drink a lot of alcohol. An interesting discovery of the study was that heavier drinkers were more likely to have more teeth than those who drank less.
Patients with risk factors for heart disease, such as a larger waist or higher cholesterol levels, were also more likely to report having an oral health problem, such as missing teeth or bleeding gums. While the study doesn’t outright conclude that heart disease increases risk for gum disease or that improving your oral health care routine can reduce your chances of developing heart disease, it does suggest a stronger link between the two.
Gum Disease and Status
The study also found a connection between gum disease and economic and social status. People who smoked had an increased risk of reporting gum disease symptoms, as did people who had lower levels of education. The more teeth a person had, the more likely they were to report a higher level of education and, interestingly, a higher level of stress at their jobs. The findings suggest, but don’t conclude, that a person’s position in life plays at least some role in the health of his or her mouth.
What You Can Do
Taking good care of your teeth might not lower your risk for heart disease. But, it will improve your odds when it comes to preserving your smile and battling gum disease. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, make sure to floss daily, and most importantly, see your dentist regularly.
In some cases, gum disease is linked to your genes, so even taking care of your teeth might not be enough to keep it at bay. If you are concerned about gum disease, schedule an appointment with a Miami periodontist. Dr. John Gallardo and Dr. William Lamas will examine your smile and recommend a course of treatment that’s best for you. To schedule an appointment at their practice, call (305) 447-1447 today.