Further Research Strengthens Link Between Gum Disease & Stroke

Portland gum disease treatment

A new study has discovered important information for any patient that needs Portland gum disease treatment. According to researchers, the study has further strengthened the connection already believed to exist between stroke risk and gum disease by showing a graded relationship with the severity of gum disease and stroke risk. The study also found that patients who received regular dental care actually had their risk of stroke lowered.

“This effort is one of the largest, U.S.-based community studies of periodontal disease, dental care utilization, and ischemic stroke,” wrote researchers in the publication Medscape Medical News.

“Our results show that individuals who regularly visit the dentist have half the stroke risk when compared to those who do not receive regular dental care,” stated researchers. “And our study of periodontal disease showed the more severe this is, the higher the risk of future stroke.”

Cases of periodontal disease marked by an increase of inflammation has the strongest connection to an increased risk for stroke. “The risk conferred by gum disease is similar to that of high blood pressure – it is in the range of two to three times increased risk,” added researchers.

Building a Stronger Case for Better Oral Health

The relationship between heart attack risk and gum disease has already been clearly established in previous research, as has the connection between gum disease and stroke risk. “Our current results strengthen that link. If causal, these associations would be of great importance because of the potential that periodontal disease treatment could reduce the stroke risk.”

Researchers also believe that practicing quality oral hygiene can do more for the body than simply improving the health of our smiles. Brushing and flossing daily may also help to lower our risk for stroke and heart disease. The results of a number of studies have shown the need to practice quality oral care at home, while also receiving regular dental cleanings and exams.

The results of this latest study were published in the journal Stroke online.

Researchers noted that periodontal disease classifies as a chronic inflammatory disease that develops as a result of bacterial colonization that impacts the hard and soft tissue structures that hold our teeth into position. The prevalence of the gum disease is very high, with periodontitis and gingivitis (severe and mild forms of the disease, respectively) impacting up to 90 percent of the world’s population. Roughly half of Americans 30 and older suffer from periodontitis, the most severe form of the disease.

Observational studies have found that poor gum health is linked to an increased risk of stroke, but researchers are quick to point out that these type of individual studies do have certain limitations, including differing definitions of what constitutes gum disease, risk factors such as socioeconomic status, and small study sample size.

In this latest study, researchers used a new definition that classified seven specific periodontal profile classes that range from healthy to severe to examine the relationship between stroke and gum disease. Researchers also looked for specific stroke subtypes and adjusted their result for these factors.

In the study, researchers examined data from over 10,000 middle-aged participants who had not suffered a previous stroke that were involved in the ARIC (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities) study of the causes of atherosclerosis and clinical sequelae.

The participants were asked to complete questionnaires that determined the current level of care they were receiving, ranking it as regular (frequent exams and cleanings) or episodic (dental care was only received when a problem developed).

During a 15-year follow up, over 580 participants suffered an ischemic stroke.

The study results found that compared with episodic dental care users, those who received regular dental care had a lower risk for ischemic stroke. After adjusting for known risk factors, such as age, race, and current health, regular dental care recipients continued to enjoy a lower risk for stroke.

When considering the question of periodontal disease, over 6,700 participants underwent a thorough dental examination, completed a questionnaire, and submitted to testing after their fourth follow up dental visit. Of these participants, 299 would eventually suffer an ischemic stroke.

When compared to study participants without periodontal disease, those with gum disease had a higher risk for suffering a stroke that increased in proportion with the severity of their gum disease.

Protecting Your Health

The results of what this and other studies suggest is that tending to our oral health is paramount to helping to protect our long-term health. It’s vital that patients avoid needing Portland gum disease treatment, as that directly increases their risk of suffering from a range of other serious health problems. From heart disease and stroke to diabetes and dementia, failing to care for our oral health no longer simply results in a damaged smile, but far more complicated health problems as well.