In a study from Taiwan and presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions, professional tooth scaling was associated with fewer strokes and heart attacks.
Of those 100,000 people who had their teeth scraped and cleaned by a dentist or dental hygienist, 24 percent had a lower risk of heart attack and 13 percent lower risk of stroke compared to those who never had a dental cleaning. The participants were followed for an average of seven years.
"Protection from heart disease and stroke was more pronounced in participants who got tooth scaling at least once a year," said Emily Chen, MD, cardiology fellow at the Veterans General Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan, who coauthored the study with Hsin-Bang Leu, MD.
If tooth scaling occurred at least twice or more in two years, scientists considered it "frequent"; "Occasional" if it occurred once or less in two years. The study included more that 51,000 adults who had received at least one full or partial tooth scaling and a similar number of people matched with gender and health conditions who had no tooth scaling, according to a news release in Science Daily. None of the participants had a history of heart attack or stroke at the beginning of the study.
Additionally, researchers did not adjust for risk factors for heart attack and stroke,m such as whether they were smokers, their race, or weight.
Chen said professional tooth scaling appeared to reduce inflammation-causing bacterial growth that could lead to heart disease or stroke.
Journal of the California Dental Association, March 2012.