Men with Gum Disease Have a 72%
Higher Risk for Heart Disease
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February 2, 2018
By Susan Callahan, Contributing Columnist

Eager to lower your risk for heart disease? New evidence suggest that
you should look no further than your mouth.  Tooth decay  --- cavities,
bleeding gums or advanced gum disease --- raise your risk for heart
disease by almost 72%, several studies have found.

Men under the age of 50 with periodontal disease experience twice as
many heart attacks as men without such dental problems, according to
several studies on the problem. The landmark study happened in 1993,
led by Dr. Frank DeStephano, an epidemiologist with Marshfield Medical
Research Foundation in Wisconsin and Dr. Robert Anda with the
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, a
part of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

This study looked at the 9760 men over a 14 year period. To
understand the degree of dental problems at the beginning of the
study, the researchers assessed the severity of dental problems on a
sliding scale.  At the worst end of the scale were men who had lost
teeth because of decay and gum disease.  At the best end of the scale
were men with no evidence of any tooth decay or gum disease.

At the end of the study, they were able to see which of the men had
experienced heart attacks (acute myocardial infarctions) and to match
that evidence against the state of their dental health.  

Most of Us Have 10 to 17 Missing or Diseased Teeth

Most Americans have had gum disease. By the time we are 50, in fact,
most of us have had moderate to severe periodontal disease. Bleeding
gums represent the mildest stage of gum inflammation, called gingivitis.
Left untreated, the disease attacks deeper into the tooth, damaging the
bone structure that holds the tooth in the jaw and causing deep
pockets around the tooth. By the final stage, you have lost so much
bone that the tooth becomes wobbly and falls out.

On average, the study found that "adults in the United States have an
average of 10 to 17 decayed, missing, or filled teeth and most have
experienced periodontal disease (gingivitis or periodontitis), with
moderate to severe periodontal disease being present in one third of
the elderly population."

Younger Men Are Even More At Risk for Heart Attack Related to Tooth
Decay Than Older Men

The results of the study were surprising. The men most at risk for heart
attacks related to tooth decay were under 50. This category of men
experienced a heart attack rate that was 72% higher than men whose
mouths were in the best shape, with no  gum disease.

During the decades of life before age 50, active periodontal disease,
even more than whether or not you have lost teeth, predicts your risk
for dying from a heart attack.

Poor Dental Hygiene Is an Independent Risk Factor for Your Heart
Attack Risk

A separate discovery of the study was that your daily dental hygiene
strongly affects your risk for a heart attack, even if you don't have
periodontal disease.

The researchers gave participants an oral hygiene score of between 0
(perfect dental hygiene) and 6 (bad dental hygiene). Prefect dental
hygiene indicates twice daily tooth brushing, no bad breath, and

Young men under 50 with the worse dental hygiene --- an index score
of 6 --- had a risk of dying that was 3 to 4 times higher than the men
with a perfect dental hygiene score.

How to Improve Your Dental Hygiene Score

Most people believe that dental hygiene begins and ends with brushing
your teeth. Actually brushing your teeth is the
start of good dental

You should brush your teeth after each meal, even lunch. Brushing
should start within an hour of eating, before the food trapped between
your teeth and gums has a chance to start decaying and producing a
bacterial environment.

If you cannot brush your teeth, perhaps because you are at work, then
at the very least you should rinse your mouth with water after eating.

You also should floss between your teeth. If your teeth and gums are
compromised by periodontal disease, you should consider using an
inter-dental brush. These tiny brushes are able to sweep away more of
the food that gets lodged underneath the gum line than other types of
floss. The brushes come in different sizes to fit the spaces between
your teeth.

You should also consider using a water pick to dislodge particles in the
back molars.

As for mouthwashes, studies have found that using an aloe vera based
mouth wash retards the growth of bacteria hidden in pockets, if you
have some degree of periodontal disease. For example, a 2012 study
from the Public Dental Service, in Ulricehamn, Sweden, found that
toothpaste containing high concentrations of aloe vera reduces
gingivitis and periodontitis by 20%; compared with toothpastes with
aloe vera.

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Aloe vera gel helps to reduce gum
disease by 20%.