Take it to heart: Oral health is important
RALEIGH, N.C., (Feb. 15, 2012) — Heart disease has been the leading cause of death in the U.S. since 1921, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which estimated that nearly 1.24 million people – or about 3,400 each day – suffered a new or recurrent heart attack in 2010.1 So this February, in recognition of American Heart Month, Delta Dental of North Carolina wants to emphasize the connection between oral health and heart health.
“Researchers continue to find associations between periodontal (gum) disease and other chronic health conditions like heart disease,” said Dr. Jed Jacobson, chief science officer at Delta Dental of North Carolina. “People with periodontal disease and heart disease share common risk factors such as smoking, older age, low-income status and obesity. A major question is how these factors and diseases relate to each other. In this case, if you treat the gum disease will you lower the likelihood of developing or worsening heart disease? Ongoing studies are attempting to answer that question.”
A mix of conditions, behaviors and genetics including high cholesterol and blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and a combination of poor diet and insufficient exercise leading to obesity have helped keep coronary ailments king. Genetics likely has some role in high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other heart disease factors.
Studies show that people with periodontal (gum) disease may be at a higher risk for coronary artery disease (CAD), the most common type of heart disease, than those without it. Researchers are now trying to determine if bacteria and inflammation in the gum tissues as a result of periodontal disease contribute to the clogging of arteries and lead to CAD. 2
To keep the heart healthy, it’s important to practice sound dental hygiene habits such as brushing and flossing twice daily, using a fluoride mouth rinse, eating a healthy diet, discontinuing the use of cigarettes or other tobacco products, and making time for regular dental check-ups. Visiting the dentist is an often neglected, but vital aspect of maintaining good oral health. Like most diseases, periodontal disease is much easier to treat and control if discovered early.
For more information about Delta Dental, visit www.deltadentalnc.org.
About Delta Dental of North Carolina
Delta Dental of North Carolina, with its affiliates in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio and Tennessee collectively are among the largest dental plan administrators in the nation. In 2011, the enterprise paid out $2.2 billion for dental treatment for 8.6 million enrollees. Offices are located in Raleigh and Charlotte, N.C.; Indianapolis and Greenwood, Ind.; Louisville, Ky.; Okemos and Farmington Hills, Mich.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio; and Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis, Tenn.
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Roger V, Go, A, Lloyd-Jones, D, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2011 update. a report from the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee Circulation 2011;123:e1-e192.
2 “Gum Disease Links to Heart Disease and Stroke.”American Academy of Periodontology, May 8, 2008.
www.perio.org/consumer/mbc.heart.htm Accessed 2010.