Research shows scaling prevents heart attack

Two new studies claim to show links between mouth hygiene,gum disease and cardiovascular events. Researchers in Taiwan found that dental patients who had their teeth cleaned and scaled professionally had reduced risks of heart attack and stroke, while researchers in Sweden found that the type of periodontal disease may predict degree of risks for heart attack, stroke and heart failure.

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In their nationwide, population-based study, Drs Emily (Zu-Yin) Chen and Hsin-Bang Leu from the Cardiology department at Taipei Veterans General Hospital, examined data on over 51,000 adults who had received at least one full or partial tooth scaling from a dentist or dental hygienist, and a similar number of matched controls who had never had their teeth professionally cleaned.
None of the participants had a history of stroke or heart attack. The data came from Taiwan National Health insurance records, and the researchers ran statistical tests to compare the cardiovascular event rates between the two groups for an average follow- up of seven years.
They found that participants who had their teeth professionally scaled frequently or occasionally had a 24% lower risk of heart attack and a 13% lower risk of stroke compared to those who did not. The researchers considered tooth scaling frequent if it occurred at least twice or more in two years, and considered it occasional if it happened once or less in two years.

The Swedish study was the work of Dr Anders Holmlund of the Centre for Research and Development of the County Council of Gävleborg, and senior consultant, Specialized Dentistry, and Dr Lars from the Department of Acute Medicine at Uppsala Academic Hospital.
They examined data on 7,999 participants with periodontal or gum disease and found that types of gum disease predict risk for heart attack, congestive heart failure and stroke in different ways and to different degrees.
After adjusting for age, gender, smoking and education level, their results showed that:

  • Participants who had fewer than 21 teeth had a 69% higher risk of heart attack compared to those who had the most teeth.
  • Participants with most infection (ie the highest number of deepended periodontal pockets around the base of the teeth) had a 53% higher risk of heart attack compared to those with the least infection (fewest number of pockets).
  • The participants with the fewest number of teeth had 2.5 times the risk of congestive heart failure compared to those with the most teeth.
  • Those with the highest incidence of gum bleeding had 2.1 times the risk of stroke compared to participants with the lowest incidence.
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