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Tooth Loss Can Signal Heart Disease

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A lost tooth could be a sign of more than just bad brushing habits. It could also be a warning of heart disease.

Preliminary findings from a study published in a recent issue of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association suggest that the loss of several teeth could be tied to plaque buildup in the carotid arteries, which are the vessels that supply the brain.

Loss of teeth may boost stroke risk by as much as 74 percent compared with people who have not experienced tooth loss, the study suggests.

Findings from the study support the link between gum disease - caused by bacterial infections - and the risk of heart disease and stroke. Infections have a significant impact on increasing the risk of these health problems, recent studies show.

Other studies have suggested that gum disease could be linked to heart attacks and strokes.

The researchers say tooth loss is probably a sign of chronic infection or gum inflammation, but they note that it's not always caused by severe gum disease. So it's important to get checked by a dentist when you lose any teeth.

The artery damage associated with gum disease may plateau, researchers say, but treatment may be necessary to reverse it.



- American Heart Association:


Edited and compiled by Phyllis Stone.


(c) 2003, Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.

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