Could Dental Disease Contribute To Increased Risk Of Stroke?
Researchers recently demonstrated an association between gum disease and the increased risk of stroke due to potential blockages of the main blood vessels leading to the brain (carotid artery). These blockages, or atheromas, contain calcium and can be detected on dental panoramic radiographs.
Given this provocative finding, a UCLA study was conducted to determine if dental disease depicted on a panoramic radiograph is more prevalent among people with atheromas seen on their dental radiograph than among people without atheromas but matched for stroke risk factors (body mass, smoking history, need for medications to control hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes). The group with carotid atheromas seen on dental panoramic radiographs was found to have more dental disease, as determined by the number of teeth with decay, missing teeth, and the amount of bone loss around teeth, than the group without any radiographically detectable atheromas.
The results of this study indicate that dental disease may play a role in the formation of carotid atheromas in patients already at risk for stroke.