Gum disease isn't just nasty to look at. Several studies have suggested that it's bad for your whole bodythere in the gums, bacteria have an easy way to gain access to your bloodstream and travel all over. In the Journal of Periodontology, researchers looked at gum disease and cardiovascular disease.
What the researchers wanted to know: What is the relationship between gum disease, coronary heart disease, and cerebrovascular disease (such as stroke)?
What they did: The researchers went over data from 11 studies that looked at people with either gingivitis and periodontitis (mild and severe gum disease) and estimated their risk for coronary heart disease or cerebrovascular disease.
What they found: People with gum disease had a slightly higher chance of both coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular disease than healthy people.
What the study means to you: Yet another reason to brush and flossavoiding cavities, keeping your teeth, and, apparently, helping your heart. The increase in risk wasn't huge, though.
Caveats: It's also possible that people with better teeth have a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases because they have higher socioeconomic statuswhich, in general, is good for your health.
Find out more: Warning signs of gum disease, from the American Academy of Periodontology
Read the article: Khader, Y.S., et al. "Periodontal Diseases and the Risk of Coronary Heart and Cerebrovascular Diseases: A Meta-Analysis." Journal of Periodontology. August 2004, Vol. 75, No. 8, pp. 1046-1053.
Abstract online: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov