Take Heart and Read This

Losing a tooth may impact more than your smile – it could leave you with a higher risk of heart disease.

A new study presented at the American College of Cardiology Middle East Conference 2019, held in conjunction with the 10th Emirates Cardiac Society Congress in October, highlighted the connection between cardiovascular disease and gum health issues.

Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of men and women in the United States and has been linked to gum disease in earlier studies.

Gum disease is also a serious health condition caused by bacterial infections in the gum tissue. If left untreated, gum disease can cause tooth loss.

‘When the gums become inflamed in response to bacterial infection, the periodontal tissues of the mouth begin to break down,’ Endsley said.

To determine the connection between the two conditions, researchers analyzed the 2014 Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System to look at nontraumatic tooth loss in relation to heart disease, the rate of heart attack, angina and/or stroke.

The study, which included 316,588 participants from the United States and its territories between the ages of 40 and 79, compared the rates of tooth loss and cardiac conditions.

Of the participant group, 8 percent had no teeth and 13 percent had heart conditions. The percentage of people who had heart disease and no teeth was 28, but only 7 percent had heart disease and were not missing teeth.

Additionally, those who were missing one to five teeth or six or more, but not missing all of their teeth, were more likely to develop heart disease.

Study authors made adjustments during their research for factors such as body mass index (BMI), age, race, alcohol consumption, smoking, diabetes and frequency of dental visits.

Their study found that there is a direct relationship between dental health and heart health.

‘In many cases, health conditions present themselves in the mouth,’ said Dr. Richard Armstrong, a Waco, Texas, dentist.

Knowing the signs of heart disease that commonly show up in the mouth may help individuals reduce their risk of heart disease by prompting earlier treatment.

‘Healthy gums should be pink and firm,’ Armstrong said.

If gums are red or swollen gums, bleed when brushed or are painful when eating, it’s a sign to see the dentist. Also, if teeth are loose or fall out, it’s time to make a call for a checkup.

‘Getting in to see the dentist sooner rather than later may just save your life,’ Armstrong said.

Source: American College of Cardiology. ‘Tooth loss associated with higher risk of heart disease: Adults missing one or more teeth from nontraumatic events more prone to heart attack, stroke.’ ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 October 2019.