Oral health outweighs heart risk

A leading dental institute says the long-term health benefits of dental treatment far outweigh the risk of cardiovascular complications.

Recent research undertaken by researchers from the UCL Eastman Dental Institute (UCL EDI), UCL Epidemiology and Public Health Department and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and funded by the Wellcome Trust and the British Heart Foundation, suggested that invasive dental treatment such as extractions, carries a small, but statistically significant increase in the risk of stroke and heart attack over the short term.
In a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine, the researchers examined data from the claims database of a US Medicaid programme to investigate whether impairment to blood flow resulting from invasive dental treatment created a higher risk for cardiovascular events.
Averaged across the different age groups, the records suggested that, in the month following invasive dental treatment, the risk of a heart attack or stroke is increased by 50%. However, the risk then returned to normal in the weeks following this, resulting in an increased overall risk of less than 4% per year.
‘This is the first study that links those dental procedures associated with a relevant host inflammatory response with short term risk of vascular events.’ says Dr Francesco D’Aiuto, a HEFCE Clinical Senior Lecturer at UCL EDI.

‘More research is needed on the short term effects of invasive dental procedures, even simple tooth extractions, especially in high risk individuals like those with established vascular diseases.’
However, the researchers are keen to stress that any risk increase is likely to be outweighed by the long-term benefits of dental treatment.
Although small, the increase is statistically significant, therefore adding further evidence to support the link between acute inflammation and the risk of cardiovascular events.

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