If you are concerned about heart disease, you might think you need to see a cardiologist to get proper treatment to reduce your risk, but there’s another doctor you should be seeing to help control your heart risks: your friendly neighborhood Spokane dentist.

Your dentist can help control gum disease, which has been associated with cardiovascular diseases, a connection that was recently reaffirmed in a European study of more than 15,000 individuals with coronary heart disease.

Tooth Loss and Heart Risks

This study wasn’t actually intended to look at the link between gum disease and heart risk, but on the effects of a drug undergoing clinical trials for controlling plaque buildup. But they surveyed 15,828 people from 39 countries who had coronary heart disease about a number of topics, including their oral health, answering questions about tooth loss and bleeding when brushing. The results indicated that 16% of subjects had lost all their teeth and 41% had fewer than 15 teeth, while a quarter said they experienced bleeding when brushing their teeth.

Statistical analysis showed that tooth loss was associated with risk factors for heart risks, including:

  • LDL cholesterol levels
  • Systolic blood pressure
  • Higher fasting glucose levels
  • Waist circumference

And the first two items were associated with bleeding gums.

Now there’s a lot of potential co-founders here, but because of the size of the study, they were able to correct for co-founders, including smoking, age, diabetes, and education level. They couldn’t come out and say that their evidence showed gum disease causes heart disease, but they said it was an important marker of risk.

Does Gum Disease Cause Heart Disease?

Establishing causation in science can be hard, especially when conditions such as gum disease and heart disease have so many common causes. But there is a lot of evidence out there that gum disease actually contributes to heart disease risk. For example, we have found live oral bacteria in arterial plaque that causes coronary artery disease. Experiments have also shown that treating gum disease can impact markers of heart disease, resulting in perhaps a 12% decrease in heart disease risk. And we know that treating gum disease reduces the cost of caring for heart disease and other conditions.

As a result, we may not know that gum disease causes heart disease, but we sure as heck know that treating gum disease seems to have an impact on heart disease. This means that if you are concerned about your heart disease risk, seeing a dentist for preventive cleanings and checkups should be part of your plan to stay healthy. Want to learn more about the benefits of regular dental care? Please call 509-581-4188 in Spokane or 509-927-2273 in Spokane Valley.