A comprehensive review of the literature undertaken by the American Heart Association (AHA) on the relationship between periodontal disease and heart disease has been acknowledged by the American Association for Dental Research (AADR).
The review titled "Periodontal disease and atherosclerotic vascular disease: Does the evidence support an independent association?: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association" was published online in Circulation
on April 18, 2012.
The review assessed, 1) whether available data supported an independent association between atherosclerotic vascular disease (ASVD) and periodontal disease, and 2) whether available data supported that periodontal treatment might modify ASVD risks or outcomes.
The extensive review of current literature—including more than 40 epidemiologic observational studies—did indeed support an association between periodontal disease and ASVD independent of known cofounders. "The validation of an association between periodontal disease and heart disease from the American Heart Association is an important statement from a public policy perspective," said AADR President Rena D'Souza. While the association has been demonstrated, the literature review failed to support either a cause-effect relationship, or that periodontal treatment might prevent ASVD or modify its outcome.
AADR has many members who are researching the association between oral health and cardiovascular health, but long-term studies on the association between periodontal infection and cardiovascular disease or long-term periodontal treatment intervention studies on cardiovascular health are certainly understudied. Hence, it was not surprising that the authors failed to find evidence in the literature demonstrating either causality or a treatment effect.
Importantly, the AHA review highlighted significant gaps in our scientific understanding of the interaction of oral health and ASVD and articulated that well-designed, controlled interventional studies would be required to further elucidate our understanding of these interactions.
"Further research on the association of oral health and cardiovascular disease is critical," stated D'Souza. "By harnessing today's epidemiologic, genomic, proteomic, microbiologic and immunologic tools with data examining environmental interactions and bioinformatics approaches, we can advance our understanding of this important association that has such clear public health implications."