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No Causal Link between Periodontal and Heart Disease

August 10, 2015

Dental blog article written April 16, 2012

After a review of over 500 journal articles and studies, the American Heart Association (AHA) has again released a statement in its April 18 (2012) issue of Circulation that it does not support the finding of a causative link between periodontal disease and atherosclerotic vascular disease.

A consensus on the position is held by the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs, the AHA, including infectious disease specialists, cardiologists, and dentists.  Many doctors have long suspected a causative link between heart disease and periodontal disease for decades, as have others in the medical community.

Although there appears to be a strong association between the two conditions, past studies have not accounted for common risk factors between periodontal and heart disease, such as age, smoking, and diabetes mellitus.

Both conditions do produce common clinical markers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein.  Periodontal treatment has been shown to reduce systemic inflammation, and thus levels of inflammatory markers.  However, that does not in any way guarantee heart disease reduction or reversal.

The same day, the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) released its position:

“While current research does not yet provide evidence of a causal relationship between the two diseases, scientists have identified biologic factors, such as chronic inflammation, that independently link periodontal disease to the development or progression of cardiovascular disease in some patients.”

As practitioners, we need to be certain our patients are not absorbing unwarranted conclusions from the media, while also getting out the word on the many health benefits of improved dental hygiene and maintenance.

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