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Regular Teeth Cleanings Reduce Risk for Heart Attack and Stroke

Oral health may be more connected with cardiovascular health than previously realized….

Not only is gum disease associated with the development of heart disease, a recent study shows that receiving regular professional teeth cleanings can help greatly reduce risk for heart attack and stroke.

The study is the first to show that teeth cleanings may actually reduce cardiovascular risk. More than 102,000 patients participated and were followed for about seven years. Researchers found that those who had their teeth professionally cleaned more than once every two years were 24% less likely to have a heart attack and 13% less likely to have a stroke compared with those who never had their teeth cleaned. And even those who had their teeth cleaned less than once every two years still had 13% lower risk of heart attack and 9% reduced risk of stroke compared with those who never had one.

These findings underscore the importance of oral hygiene in maintaining heart health. With more than half of study participants never having their teeth cleaned over the course of seven years, healthcare providers need to identify ways to make sure that patients take better care of their oral health.

How is oral health associated with heart health?  Although the exact link is unknown, experts believe that those with gum disease have increased bacteria in the mouth that can cause chronic inflammation — a condition that can lead to heart disease, heart attack and stroke. 

Why is having regular teeth cleanings important to maintaining oral health? Having regular teeth cleanings lowers bacteria in the mouth that cause chronic inflammation. It can also help identify any problems that patients may have, such as cavities or gum disease, and encourage better oral hygiene, such as flossing and brushing regularly.

Presented at the 2011 American Heart Association medical conference