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A link has been found between bad teeth and the risk of heart disease

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Oral infections which destroy teeth are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, a US study has found.

The researchers, reviewing current literature, say inflammation-causing oral diseases, including cavities and gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis, are associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

“Given the high prevalence of oral infections, any risk they contribute to future cardiovascular disease is important to public health,” says Thomas Van Dyke of the Forsyth Institute.

A high dose of a commonly prescribed cholesterol-lowering medication, atorvastatin, part of the statins group, prevents both periodontal and cardiovascular inflammation and reverses existing disease.

“The majority of diseases and conditions of ageing, including obesity and type 2 diabetes, have a major inflammatory component that can be made worse by the presence of periodontitis,” Van Dyke says. “Periodontitis is not just a dental disease, and it should not be ignored, as it is a modifiable risk factor.”

The review article, published in the journal Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, summarises the latest clinical evidence supporting a link between oral infections and heart disease.

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