As your dentist in Lakewood, Colorado, our team at Advanced Family Dental strive to educate all of our patients on the dangers presented by poor oral health. In fact, adults suffering from gum disease may be twice as likely of suffering from a stroke, finds the results of a new study.
The results of this latest research is not the first to study to discover a connection between gum disease and attacks on the brain caused by blood clots.
However, the new findings expand on those previous discoveries by demonstrating a “dose-response” relationship. This means the more severe the level of gum disease, the higher an individual’s risk of stroke becomes, according to researchers at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine.
An Increased Risk of Stroke
The risk of stroke increased with the severity of gum disease; it was 1.9 times higher, 2.1 times and 2.2 times higher for patients suffering from mild, moderate, and severe gum disease, respectively, show the findings of the study.
While researchers were intrigued by this relationship, the results of this study still don’t show a clear cause and effect relationship between gum disease and stroke. However, the discovery of dose-effect relationship is important even if the observational nature of the study prevented a clear cause and effect relationship from being established.
Researchers still don’t fully understand why patients suffering from gum disease have a higher risk for stroke. The levels of inflammation discovered in both gum disease and hardening of the arteries may play a role. That’s because when blood vessels harden in the neck or brain it could lead to a stroke.
But there may be other reasons. It’s possible that patients who neglect their oral health are also less likely to visit the doctor for lingering medical conditions or to take medications as prescribed.
However, the question still remains: Can a patient’s risk of stroke or heart attack be successfully lowered by treating his or her gum disease?
To answer this question, researchers used data from a large prospective analysis sponsored by the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
In the data pool, over 6,700 adults who had yet to suffer a stroke were categorized based on their level of gum disease and followed for 15 years. The participants were mostly white and 55 percent were female, with an average age of 62.
Of this group, almost 300 stroke were recorded over the course of the study.
Even after adjusting for additional factors – such as race, age, and various other health factors – the risk of stroke was higher among those with more severe cases of gum disease.
The link between an increased risk of gum disease and stroke was highest for two types of clotting, or ischemic, strokes. Nearly half (47 percent) were thrombotic strokes. These are due to clot formation in an artery of the brain. About 25 percent were cardioembolic strokes, which occur when a blood clot moves from the heart to the brain.
While the results of this study may stop short at definitively saying brushing and flossing will lower your risk of stroke and heart attack, your dentist in Lakewood, Colorado believes the strong level of evidence linking these two conditions should encourage patients to take better care of their oral health.
The findings of the study were recent presented at the International Stroke Conference in Houston.