November 13, 2011
Teeth Cleaning Cuts Heart, Stroke Risks?

Inflammation from chronic bacterial infections is a suspected risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Therefore it is of interest that more frequent teeth cleaning might cut heart disease and stroke risk.

Professional tooth scaling was associated with fewer heart attacks and strokes in a study (Abstract 17704) from Taiwan presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2011.

Among more than 100,000 people, those who had their teeth scraped and cleaned (tooth scaling) by a dentist or dental hygienist had a 24 percent lower risk of heart attack and 13 percent lower risk of stroke compared to those who had never had a dental cleaning. The participants were followed for an average of seven years.

Scientists considered tooth scaling frequent if it occurred at least twice or more in two years; occasional tooth scaling was once or less in two years.

The study included more than 51,000 adults who had received at least one full or partial tooth scaling and a similar number of people matched with gender and health conditions who had no tooth scaling. None of the participants had a history of heart attack or stroke at the beginning of the study.

Getting your teeth cleaned regularly is a good idea anyway since it cuts the risk of loss of teeth and avoids the development of an interest in TV commercials about dentures.

A separate study found a big difference in heart and stroke risk based on the number of remaining teeth.

In a separate study (abstract 10576), researchers found that the value of markers for gum disease predict heart attack, congestive heart failure and stroke in different ways and to different degrees.

Anders Holmlund, D.D.S., Ph.D. Centre for Research and Development of the County Council of Gävleborg, Sweden, and senior consultant; Specialized Dentistry, studied 7,999 participants with periodontal disease and found people with:

  • Fewer than 21 teeth had a 69 percent increased risk of heart attack compared to those with the most teeth.
  • A higher number of deepened periodontal pockets (infection of the gum around the base of the tooth) had a 53 percent increased risk of heart attack compared to those with the fewest pockets.
  • The least amount of teeth had a 2.5 increased risk of congestive heart failure compared to those with the most teeth.
  • The highest incidence of gum bleeding had a 2.1 increased risk of stroke compared to those with the lowest incidence.

Haven't gotten your teeth cleaned lately? Time to make an appointment. Also, get out that floss and use it.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 November 13 08:19 PM  Aging Cardiovascular Studies

StevenH said at November 14, 2011 7:34 AM:

There's a theory that heart disease and gum disease have the same root cause. The studies you cite are correlations, not causation, so a common underlying cause is not ruled out. It would be just as easy to say heart disease causes gingivitis.

Deckin said at November 15, 2011 10:14 AM:


Doesn't the first study mentioned pretty much rule out common cause? If they had a common cause, then cleaning the teeth would have no impact on heart disease since cleaning wouldn't (I imagine) get at that cause? Of course getting the causation backwards is still possible, but common cause, I'm not seeing it.

Karadril said at November 15, 2011 12:45 PM:

Well, I can easily imagine 1 common cause: people who clean their teeth often (or go through the trouble of having it done at the dentist) are people who pay good attention to their body. The general mentality of willingness to make efforts to have your teeth in good shape probably applies to other aspects of your physique as well, so they might work out more or eat less junk. Come to think of it, couldn't junk food also be a common cause for both of these?

Shelly Slader said at July 22, 2014 3:41 PM:

I'm not sure if getting your teeth cleaned really does reduce the risk of heart disease or not. I do think that it's important to visit your dentist to get your teeth cleaned no matter what, though. Brushing and flossing at home isn't enough. It's definitely worth visiting a dentist to get your teeth professionally cleaned at least twice a year.
Shelly Slader |

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