Recent research has shown that strong dental care can help to lessen the chances of further strokes for those affected already by a stroke. Strokes are debilitating conditions that can be life-threatening. Sadly, some people have multiple strokes during their life. But this research shows that the chances of this happening can be greatly reduced by strong dental care.
New research has found that adults who have survived a past stroke can lessen their chances of having another stroke through strong dental care. Therefore, they could avoid having a second stroke and the associated issues that are caused by this.
The research is important, as strokes are highly-debilitating. As many people end up having multiple strokes, finding a way to prevent further strokes is highly-desirable. Therefore, these findings have the potential to help many people.
What is a Stroke?
A stroke is a dangerous and life-threatening event that happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off . A stroke requires urgent treatment, and will sadly often result in death.
Strokes are often caused by a blood clot or burst blood vessel . Risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, irregular heartbeats and diabetes .
A link between poor oral health and strokes is already known. For example, a study from 2020 showed that those with advanced gum disease were at an increased risk of having a stroke .
For those that do survive a stroke, further strokes are unfortunately common. Therefore, it is important to take measures to try and prevent a second stroke. This is an issue which this research looked to consider.
The study was carried out by a research team from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Their findings were then presented at the American Heart Association’s International Stroke Conference .
The research involved 280 patients that had experienced a recent stroke, as well as suffering from periodontal disease (an advanced form of gum disease) .
The researchers wanted to test what would happen when these patients were each given one of two different treatment plans. They hoped to see if there was a noticeable difference in the outcomes of those from both treatment plans .
Half of the group received standard periodontal treatment. This consisted of regular toothbrushing and plaque removal by a dentist – as would happen at a regular check-up . Essentially, this group received dental treatment that the majority receive throughout their life.
However, the other half of the cohort were given intensive periodontal treatment. This included two plaque removal treatments, extraction of any teeth that needed removal, antibiotics, mouthwash, an air flosser and electric toothbrush . This represented a large breadth of treatment for periodontal disease.
The researchers then waited to see the outcomes over several years. In the end, they found that those that received intensive care had moderate improvements in lessening the chance of a further stroke .
However, it did seem that even standard periodontal treatment lowered the risk, albeit to a lesser extent . Therefore, it seems that strong dental care does appear to result in a reduced chance of a further stroke.
There were also indications that such treatments improved blood pressure and cholesterol levels for study participants . This suggests strong dental care had several benefits.
What this means
These findings underline the importance of strong dental care. It also reaffirms the link between oral health and physical health. This is something that many people are unaware of.
Past research has shown that stroke rehabilitation is a very difficult process . It usually requires various areas within healthcare, including physical therapy, cognitive therapy and mental health assistance . This study confirms that strong dental care should be a part of this rehabilitation process.
Cristiano Susin of the University of North Carolina’s Adams School of Dentistry was a co-author of the research. Susin commented on the findings . He said that the results showed “any level of periodontal care following a stroke seems to reduce the chances of a second stroke event” .
Susin then went on to say that “we already know that periodontal disease is associated with several systemic diseases and conditions, so this outcome, while not surprising, is significant for the long-term health of those who recently had a stroke” .
The authors did caution that further and larger studies are needed before any firm conclusions can be drawn . But these results are encouraging. Because of the huge number of people that suffer from strokes, any such research is positive.
1) This research involved half of the study participants receiving intensive treatment for their gum disease. Remember, this sort of treatment is available. This is especially important as so many of us have gum disease. Plaque removal, treatment and advice can all be provided by a dentist at a check-up. We recommend booking a check-up soon!
2) Do you know of anyone who is at risk of, or has had, a stroke? If so, this article clearly shows the importance of strong dental care. At a bare minimum, it is important for us all to clean and floss our teeth consistently and attend check-ups too. If you know anyone that isn’t aware of this, whether they are at risk of a stroke or not, do consider checking in with them and offering assistance, such as booking an appointment.
What we offer at Taradale Dental
Taradale Dental is a Calgary dental clinic that provides a warm welcome and comfortable experience to its patience whenever needed.
We recommend that our patients attend our Calgary-based dental clinic twice a year for a regular dental check-up. When problems are detected, we have many treatments available. For instance, these include cavity fillings and root canals. We also have some cosmetic treatments too!
Importantly, we recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing regularly. Moreover, eating healthily and trying to avoid sugary foods and drink is helpful.
 National Health Service. (2019). Stroke. Available: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stroke/. Last accessed: 18th February 2022.
 American Heart Association. (2020). Gum disease, inflammation, hardened arteries may be linked to stroke risk. Available: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-02-gum-disease-inflammation-hardened-arteries.html. Last accessed: 18th February 2022.
 University of North Carolina. (2022). Is good dental care key to stroke prevention?. Available: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-02-good-dental-key.html. Last accessed: 18th February 2022.
 Langhorne, P., Bernhardt, J., & Kwakkel. G. (2011). Stroke rehabilitation. The Lancet. 377 (9778): p1693-1702. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60325-5.