There’s no evidence to support the popular belief that unhealthy gums increases your risk of heart disease and stroke, the American Heart Association said today.
Gum and heart disease share some common risk factors — such as smoking, age and diabetes — so they can occur in the same person.
But there’s no convincing evidence that proves gum disease causes heart disease or stroke or that treating gum disease prevents heart disease or stroke. And statements implying those connections are “unwarranted” at this time, the organization said in a new statement published in the journal Circulation.
The heart association also maintains keeping teeth and gums healthy is important to overall health.
The group finding no conclusive scientific evidence of a link between gum disease and cardiovascular diseases was an American Heart Association committee that included cardiologists, dentists and infectious diseases specialists.
Dr. Peter Lockhart, co-chair of the statement writing group and a professor and chairman of oral medicine at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte , N.C., said there’s a lot of confusion out there.
“Much of the literature is conflicting, but if there was a strong causative link we would likely know that by now,” he said in a written statement.
Lockhard said it’s most important to focus on what is known rather than what isn’t. Mouth bacteria frequently enters the bloodstream during dental procedures and during tooth brushing. And people who don’t pay close attention to proven risk factors for cardiovascular disease may not pay close attention to their oral health either, he said.