Would you like to know a simple way to reduce your risk of heart disease? Make an appointment with your dentist. According to a new study published in the journal Health Economics, regular dental visits can lower heart disease risk in women.
Regular Dental Visits Reduce Heart Disease Risk
Using data collected every two years over an eight year period, researchers compared middle-aged and older men and women who regularly visited their dentist to those who didn’t – tracking them for heart attacks, heart failure, stroke, and other signs of heart problems.
The results were enlightening. Women who get regular dental care reduced their risk of heart disease and stroke by a third, while men didn’t fare so well. Regular dental visits didn’t significantly change their heart disease risk.
Why Do Regular Dental Visits Reduce Heart Disease Risk in Women?
It’s not surprising that regular dental visits lower the risk of heart disease and stroke in women. Studies show a strong link between periodontal disease and the risk of heart attack and other health problems. Research shows that heart disease and periodontal disease may even have common pathways.
The theory is the bacteria that cause gum and periodontal disease can “break off” and travel to the coronary arteries where they cause the arterial walls to become inflamed and damaged. This damage causes plaque to accumulate, which reduces blood flow and increases the risk of a clot forming – a situation that can lead to a heart attack. Regular dental visits to remove plaque prevent this sequence of events from happening.
Why Does Regular Dental Care Only Lower Heart Disease Risk in Women?
No one knows for sure, but other research shows that periodontal disease and poor oral hygiene increases the risk of heart disease in both sexes. Good dental care may be especially important for men since they’re at higher risk of heart disease – at least until women go through menopause – when their rate catches up to that of men.
Regular Dental Visits and Heart Disease: The Bottom Line?
There are lots of reasons to get regular dental care. After all, who wants bleeding gums and rotting teeth? On the other hand, the health of your heart may be most important of all. If you haven’t visited your dentist in the last six months, now might be a good time to schedule an appointment. Do it for your heart.
Eurekalert.org. ‘Women who get dental care have lower risk of heart disease, says study”
J Am Dent Assoc, Vol 133, No suppl_1, 37S-44S.