New research suggests that gum disease carries a higher risk of causing a stroke than diabetes, and its impact is nearly the equivalent of high blood pressure as a major cause of strokes.
High blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes (diabetes mellitus) are widely recognised as major risks contributing to non-fatal strokes (ischemic strokes).
In recent years, there has been growing evidence of the link between gum disease (periodontitis) and strokes.
New research indicates people are twice as likely to suffer a non-fatal stroke as a result of gum disease compared to diabetes.
The data also suggests its impact is equivalent to people with high blood pressure.
The research, presented at the 89th International Association for Dental Research (IADR) General Session and Exhibition in San Diego last month, is another reminder of the serious impact that poor oral health poses to general health and wellbeing.
Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, said: ‘Obesity, alcohol abuse, poor diet and smoking are generally well-known risk factors that can cause strokes. Less well-known are the risks caused by gum disease.
‘This research is significant because it helps to quantify the importance of oral health compared to other risk factors. The findings are startling. The fact that high blood pressure carries a similar risk to gum disease is in itself a significant finding. The other finding that shows that gum disease nearly doubles the risk of non-fatal strokes, compared to diabetes, is totally unexpected.
‘The research sends a clear message that the risks caused by poor oral health should not be overlooked or considered less important when compared to others factors.’