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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Practice Good Dental Care to Lower Heart and Cognitive Risks

Toothbrush with tube of toothpaste squeezed out into shape of heart


A whopping 47 percent of U.S. adults over 30 have periodontal disease, and the consequences can be severe for their physical and mental health, suggests a new study in the journal BMJ Open. Researchers from the UK University of Manchester followed 64,379 people diagnosed with periodontal disease, including gingivitis, marked by swollen and red gums, as well as periodontitis, in which gums pull away from the tooth and bone or teeth are lost. The subjects, with an average age of 44, were compared over an average of three years to 251,161 people without the disease. Those with periodontal disease had a 37 percent higher risk of mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety and serious mental illness; a 33 percent higher risk of developing autoimmune diseases like arthritis, Type 1 diabetes and psoriasis; an 18 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart failure, stroke and vascular dementia; and a 26 percent higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.

“This research provides further, clear evidence why healthcare professionals need to be vigilant for early signs of gum disease and how it can have wide-reaching implications for a person’s health, reinforcing the importance of taking a holistic approach when treating people,” says Caroline Aylott, head of research delivery at the University of Birmingham Versus Arthritis Centre for Musculoskeletal Ageing Research.

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