According to a new study published in the journal Stroke, regular dental care may be able to dramatically lower an individual’s risk of stroke. These findings add to the growing body of scientific evidence pointing to a deep connection between cardiovascular health and oral health.
To conduct the study, researchers used data from dental exams performed on more than 6,730 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. The ARIC study included more than 10,000 middle-aged adults in 1987 and 1989, whose long-term health outcomes were tracked through 2012. According to the researchers, study participants with any form of periodontal disease were significantly more likely to experience an ischemic stroke than those with healthy gums. This was the case even after adjusting for certain variables, such as smoking status, education, diabetes incidence, and body mass index. After further studying the results, the authors found that inflammation appeared to be the main factor between periodontal disease and stroke incidence.
Researchers also found that participants who visited the dentist at least once per year were significantly less likely to have periodontal disease and had a lower risk for ischemic stroke compared to those who visited the dentist irregularly. Based on these findings, the study’s authors concluded that regular dental visits may be able to lower stroke risk.
Impact on General Dentistry: The AGD will continue to report on new studies relating to the link between oral health and cardiovascular health.