Healthy Gums Reduce Risk for Heart Disease

At first glance many would struggle to find a connection between gum health and heart disease. However, recent research from the Epidemiology department at Columbia’s Mailman School of Health published in the newest issue of the Journal of the American Heart Association has been able to show a link between the two. Maintaining proper gum health helps to slow the professional of atherosclerosis based upon the recent clinically significant study. Atherosclerosis refers to the process of plaque buildup in the arteries causing an increase in risk of stroke, heart disease, and death. The study included 420 adults between the ages of 60 and 76 who were involved in the Oral Infections and Vascular Disease Epidemiology Study (INVEST).

The lead author on the study, Moïse Desvarieux, who is an associate professor of Epidemiology, stated, “These results are important because atherosclerosis progressed in parallel with both clinical periodontal disease and the bacterial profiles in the gums. This is the most direct evidence yet that modifying the periodontal bacterial profile could play a role in preventing or slowing both diseases.” Using a high-resolution ultrasound scan, the extent of atherosclerosis was measured for artery thickness. The 3 year study helps to shed important light on the importance of maintaining oral health.

As a reminder, gum disease can trigger a number of negative effects in the body, ranging from head to toe. In fact, over 90 percent of all systematic diseases contain some kind of oral symptoms, this includes heart disease. The following should be noted as risk factors for both gum disease and heart disease:

  • Poor nutrition
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Males

Being aware of these risk factors is important to maintain a healthy mouth and a healthy heart. Warning signs of gum disease such as red, swollen, and tender gums, bleeding gums, or chronic bad breath should be addressed immediately. Catching gum disease early and taking action to relieve the problem is the best way to maintain great overall health.

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