Dental care cuts risk of heart disease in older women

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A new study has added to the evidence supporting oral health as an indicator of general health. The study, which has recently been published online and is due to be published in print in Health Economics in the near future, found that older women who attend regular dental appointments are a third less likely to suffer from heart disease than those who do not visit their dentist on a regular basis.

The study used data from almost 7,000 people aged between 44 and 88, which had been collected for a different study; the data was collected between 1996 and 2004.

Co-author of the study, Dr Stephen Brown, said the results of the project were very interesting and cemented the notion that good oral health contributes to good general health. The study showed a particularly strong relationship between gum disease and heart problems and numerous other research projects have found the same link.

Interestingly, the study did not find that regular dental care reduced the likelihood of men developing heart problems.

The results of the study do not suggest that regular dental care prevents oral health issues, as a number of other risk factors must be taken into consideration; for example, if an individual is overweight, has blood pressure, has a family history of heart problems and has diabetes, it is highly likely that they will develop heart disease, even if they have excellent oral health.

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