• Dental Infections in Children Tied to Heart Disease Risk in Adults

    Dental Infections in Children Tied to Heart Disease Risk in Adults

    Children who develop cavities and gum disease may be more likely to develop risk factors for heart disease as an adult than children who have good oral health.

    Oral infections are among the most common causes of inflammation-induced diseases worldwide, and periodontal disease in adults have long been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

    Most people get cavities and gum disease for the first time in childhood, and these conditions can develop into more serious infections and tooth loss if they aren’t properly treated.  Treating these oral health problems in childhood can also reduce inflammation and other risk factors for hardening of the arteries.

    Researchers from the University of Helsinki did dental exams for 755 children in 1980, then followed them through 2007 to see how many of them developed risk factors for heart attacks and strokes like high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, high blood sugar, and hardening of the arteries.

    Overall, there were only 5% who had no signs of bleeding, cavities, fillings, or pockets around teeth that can signal gum disease.  Children who had even one of these signs of oral infection were 87 percent more likely to develop thickening of the artery walls, which indicates the progression and increased risk for heart attacks and strokes.

    Poor oral health in childhood was also associated with an increase in blood pressure and body mass index in early adulthood.

    The findings from this study emphasizes how important good oral hygiene and frequent check-ups with a dentist starting early in life are for general health.

    Learn more about this study in JAMA Network Open (2019); doi,10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.2523.

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