People who receive periodontal care have better outcomes after heart attack, study finds

The conventional wisdom is that medical and dental care are related, but less is known about how dental care relates to health outcomes after acute incidents like heart attacks. University of Michigan (UM) researchers studied patients receiving periodontal care, dental cleanings or no dental care during 2016-2018 and who had acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) in 2017.

They found that patients who had heart attacks and received periodontal maintenance care had the shortest length of stay in the hospital, and more follow-up visits. The longest length of stay was experienced by the no-dental-care group.

“After controlling for several factors, the periodontal care group had higher odds of having post-hospital visits,” said study co-author Romesh Nalliah, associate dean for patient services at the UM School of Dentistry.

There was no statistically significant difference between the other groups (active periodontal care and regular care) compared to the no-care group.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, did not establish a causal relationship between periodontal disease and heart disease, but research like this adds weight to the understanding that there is an association between oral health and overall health, Nalliah said.

There are 800,000 myocardial infarctions in the United States annually, and those with periodontal disease are at increased risk for hospitalisation after a heart attack, he said.

Nalliah said improved communication between medical and dental teams could help with early intervention to ensure stable periodontal health in patients who have risk factors for heart disease.