Researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health have found further evidence of the link between oral health and heart health, with a new study revealing the benefits of looking after your gums.
The study also highlights the importance of regular visits to your general or cosmetic dentist, as part of a good dental hygiene routine.
A total of 420 adults were involved in the study, with each person examined for evidence of periodontal infection, a condition which affects many people and sometimes requires the use of dental implants.
Researchers took plaque samples from beneath the gum and analysed them for 11 different bacterial strains associated with periodontal disease, as well as seven forms of control bacteria. In addition to this, researchers also measured the level of atherosclerosis in the carotid arteries of each participant.
Atherosclerosis is a narrowing of the arteries, caused by the buildup of plaque. It has been identified as a major risk factor for heart disease, strokes and other cardiovascular-related deaths.
The study’s results showed there may be a link between oral health and atherosclerosis. Participants with poorer periodontal health exhibited a difference in the thickness of their carotid arteries, compared to participants whose gums were in a better condition.
“Our results show a clear relationship between what is happening in the mouth and thickening of the carotid artery, even before the onset of full-fledged periodontal disease,” said study co-author Professor Panos N. Papapanou.
“This suggests that incipient periodontal disease should not be ignored.”
Severe periodontal disease can lead to damage in the soft tissues and bones supporting your smile, requiring more serious treatment. For that reason, it’s important to take good care of your teeth and gums – especially considering the link between oral and heart health.
If you’re wondering how you can change the appearance and health of your smile for the better, talk to your cosmetic dentist to see what your options are.