25 April 2018

New research has made a promising discovery for the continued health of millions of heart attack survivors globally, as looking after their oral health has been found to help their cardiovascular system recover1.

The study found that bacteria which causes gum disease can also impair the healing and repair of arteries after a heart attack. The researchers believe that this impaired healing may be due to an enzyme produced by the bacteria that stops the body's immune cells from repairing the arteries.

By keeping their mouths healthy and free of gum disease, people who have suffered from a heart attack may be able to avoid further cardiovascular problems in the future.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the UK, contributing to more than 150,000 deaths per year, but many of these deaths could have been prevented with relatively simple lifestyle changes2

The UK's leading oral health charity, the Oral Health Foundation, is calling on people to understand the links between oral health and cardiovascular disease in order to reduce their chances of potentially fatal illness.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, said: "This is incredibly interesting research which could offer hope to the future of millions of people affected by cardiovascular disease.

"There has been evidence for some time that gum disease increases the risk of cardiovascular disease but to now understand that preventing gum disease can also prevent further problems for victims of a heart attack opens up many interesting avenues for ongoing treatment. 

"Preventing gum disease is relatively simple, you need to ensure you brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and all clean in between your teeth with an interdental brush or floss at least one a day. 

"Combined with regular visits to a dentist you can prevent gum disease from progressing and affecting you in further ways. 

"This study certainly suggests that good oral health could significantly improve the outcome of patients who have a heart attack and we eagerly welcome more research into this."

Gum disease is a swelling, soreness or infection of the tissues supporting the teeth. 

There are two main forms of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontal disease.

Most people suffer from some form of gum disease at some time of their life, and it is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. However, the disease develops very slowly in most people, and it can be slowed down to a rate that should allow you to keep most of your teeth for life.

Early signs of gum disease include blood on your toothbrush or in the toothpaste you spit out after cleaning your teeth. Your gums may also bleed when you are eating, leaving a bad taste in your mouth. Your breath may also become unpleasant.

If you have any signs of gum disease you should visit a dental professional to get it treated before it develops into a more serious problem.


1. Delbosc S, Alsac JM, Journe C, et al. Porphyromonas gingivalis Participates in Pathogenesis of Human Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm by Neutrophil Activation. Proof of Concept in Rats. PLoS ONE. 2011;6(4):e18679. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0018679

2. British Heart Foundation, Heart Statistics, https://www.bhf.org.uk/research/heart-statistics