-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
SUNDAY, Nov. 13 (HealthDay News) -- People who visit the dentist
regularly to have their teeth cleaned may lower their risk for
heart attack or stroke, new research suggests.
The finding is to be presented Sunday at the American Heart
Association's annual meeting, in Orlando, Fla.
In following more than 100,000 people with no history of heart
problems or stroke for an average of seven years, researchers from
Taiwan found those who had their teeth scraped and cleaned by a
dentist or dental hygienist at least twice a year for two years had
a 24 percent lower risk for heart attack and a 13 percent lower
risk for stroke compared to those who never went to the dentist or
only went once in two years.
"Protection from heart disease and stroke was more pronounced in participants who got tooth scaling at least once a year," said Dr. Emily (Zu-Yin) Chen, a cardiology fellow at the Veterans General Hospital in Taipei in a news release from the American Heart Association.
Professional teeth cleanings seem to reduce the growth of
bacteria, which causes inflammation and can lead to the development
of heart disease or stroke, she added.
One U.S. expert said links between oral health and heart health
"The results are not surprising since there have been many studies showing association between inflammation and heart disease," said Dr. Lawrence Phillips, assistant professor of medicine in the division of cardiology and Director, Nuclear Cardiology at NYU Langone Medical Center, New York City. "With tooth scaling, the thought is that chronic inflammation is decreased. Good dental hygiene is recommended for all patients," he added.
The study authors noted they did not account for other heart
attack and stroke risk factors, such as weight, smoking and race,
not included in the Taiwan National Health insurance database they
used as the source of their information.
Phillips pointed to other limitations to the study, as well. "It
is unclear the additional risk factors that these patients had in
each group beyond those recorded in their database, so we do not
know if they are comparing similar patients," he said. "In
addition, those people who are proactive about their health may
have lower risk of heart disease and stroke, independent of their
risk factors. People who go for routine dental work, such as tooth
scaling, are likely to be in this group."
Meanwhile, a separate study from Sweden revealed different types
of gum disease may predict the degree of risks for heart attack,
stroke and heart failure. The researchers found that fewer teeth
and a higher number of infections around the base of teeth increase
a person's risk for congestive heart failure or heart attack.
Moreover, they found greater incidence of gum bleeding was also
associated with an increased risk for stroke.
Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary
until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
The U.S. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
provides more information on
heart disease and oral health.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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