Chew on This: Understanding the Link Between Oral Health and Heart Disease

Heart Health, Nutrition, Other, Uncategorized

As a writing member for an American College of Cardiology Workgroup, we are tasked with interesting and timely topics related to cardiovascular disease prevention. Our latest review “Oral Health and Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease: A Review” was led by my colleague and fellow cardiologist, Dr. Eugenia Gianos.

Listed below are notable highlights from this review:

  1. Periodontal disease (PD) is common in the U.S., (affecting 46% of adults) and is associated with a 3.5-fold increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Risk factors for PD include smoking, diabetes, obesity, emotional stress and poor oral hygiene.
  2. Severe periodontitis is associated with impaired vascular health and a higher risk of heart attacks.
  3. A specific bacteria isolated from dental plaque (Streptococcus sanguis) is associated with an increased risk of blood clots.
  4. PD is associated with insulin resistance and worsening glycemic control whereas intensive periodontal treatment improves glucose control in diabetics.
  5. Cigarette smoking is associated with a 20-fold increased risk of gingivitis and PD.
  6. Fifteen or more cigarettes smoked daily raises the risk of tooth loss by 3-fold.
  7. Poor oral hygiene may be an independent risk factor for hypertension.
  8. If you have PD and are hypertensive, you are less likely to respond to blood pressure medications or achieve BP control!

The Bottom Line: Good oral hygiene is pivotal for maintaining a healthy heart!

Michael Miller, MD is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.  Make sure to check out his daily heart health tips on twitter ( or Facebook: (healyourheartbook).

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