Link between Gum Disease and Heart Disease Acknowledged by American Heart Association

Studies have found an association between gum disease and heart disease that cannot be explained by the common risk factors – American Heart Association

Recently, the American Heart Association (AHA) distributed a press release acknowledging the link between gum disease and heart disease. In this news release, the AHA clarifies its views on the relationship between gum disease and heart disease – yes, there is a link between the two problems and more research is needed to produce evidence of an incontestable causative relationship.

This comes nearly a month after issuing a news release that caused widespread confusion, and even led to incorrect headlines such as “Heart Association: No Link Between Gum Disease and Heart Disease.” In the August edition of The Journal of the American Dental Association (ADA), Dr. Panos Papapanou, a periodontist, and Maurizio Trevisan, M.D., a cardiologist, two of the authors of the AHA statement on periodontitis and heart disease, will present a guest editorial exploring what is known about the association between the two diseases. In their commentary, they state as a matter of fact that “periodontitis is associated with increased risk for atherosclerosis; the association is independent and cannot be attributed to shared risk factors.”

The July issue of the ADA News includes a “My View” commentary on the complexity of periodontal disease reprinted from the AHA website. The author is Dr. Lauren L. Patton, professor and chair, Department of Dental Ecology, School of Dentistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In this article, Dr. Patton identifies that “viewing oral health as separate from general health has become obsolete” and calls for “dentistry to become more closely integrated with medicine and the health care system on all levels.”  Heart disease and gum disease are silent diseases that develop over time. Both are among the most prevalent diseases of adults, with heart disease the leading cause of death in the U.S. While we wait for additional research to confirm causality, Dr. Patton suggests there is today a rational basis for  increased “physician-dentist collaboration to encourage and to support patients in achieving optimal oral and cardiovascular health.”

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