For the last several years, I have been alerting my patients to ongoing research trying to connect periodontal disease (gum disease) with heart disease. Specifically, the research has been trying to find a direct connection and prevalence between the two. Researchers had already established that the bacteria present in a patient with periodontal disease can also be found in the arterial plaque of the cardiac vessels surrounding a patient's heart.
Last month, the American Heart Association published a conclusive first paper on this topic. Their conclusion? Although they share similar risk factors, gum disease DOES NOT CAUSE cardiovascular disease. (Follow this link to download the report HERE)
There is no convincing evidence that proves gum disease causes heart disease or stroke, or treating gum disease reduces the risk of those diseases.
Gum and heart disease share common risk factors, including smoking, age and diabetes, which is possibly why the diseases often occur in the same person.
Since we've been mentioning this in our office and talking about it with our patients, we were very glad to see the AHA issue their findings. However, this doesn't really change our advice (shared by the American Dental Association here at this link). We recommend that our patients eliminate any risk factors that are traced to behavior, like smoking and poor home care. Furthermore, we recommend that our patients consider the other risk factors and evaluate their potential of developing either periodontal and/or cardiovascular disease.