Gum disease and your heart
In this week’s Q&A on all things dental, Robert Molloy of Dublin dental practice Redmond Molloytackles the issue of possible connections between oral hygiene and heart disease.
By Robert Molloy
I hope you’ll be able to put my mind at ease. I read recently that bleeding gums can lead to heart disease – I have always got bleeding after I brush and I am now worried. What can I do?
Thanks for getting in touch.
There has been a bit of research into this, from the British Medical Journal. It says that individuals who have poor oral hygiene have an increased risk of heart disease compared to those who brush their teeth twice a day.
In the last 20 years there has been increased interest in links between heart problems and gum disease. While it has been established that inflammation in the body (including mouth and gums) plays an important role in the build up of clogged arteries, this study is the first to investigate whether the number of times individuals brush their teeth has any bearing on the risk of developing heart disease.
Over 11,000 adults took part, the research team analysed data about lifestyle behaviours such as smoking, physical activity and oral health routines. Individuals were asked how often they visited the dentist and how often they brushed their teeth. On a separate visit nurses collected information on medical history and family history of heart disease, blood pressure and blood samples from consenting adults.
Once the data were adjusted for established cardio risk factors such as social class, obesity, smoking and family history of heart disease, the researchers found that participants who reported less frequent toothbrushing had a 70% extra risk of heart disease compared to individuals who brushed their teeth twice a day.
Now, to the good news. All that’s really needed is a toothbrush and developing a regular brushing habit, combined with visiting your dentist for your scaling and polishing, because no matter how much you brush there is always little bits of tartar that your tooth brush can’t remove. So you need to visit your dentist twice a year to have this removed and then your risk is totally lower in relation to bleeding gums.
I hope that helps ease your concerns.
All the best,
Redmond Molloy is a well renowned dental practice based in Dublin, with offices in Santry, Sutton, Balbriggan and at Grand Canal Quay. For more details, check out www.redmondmolloy.ie or mail [email protected].