John C. Chao, D.D.S.

Research Associate Professor, University at Buffalo, SUNY
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Ostrow School of Dentistry, USC

(626) 308-9104

News & Press



Abscessed Teeth Increases Risk of Heart Attacks

In a study carried out at the University of Helsinki in cooperation with the Heart and Lung Centre of the university and published in the Journal of Dental Research a dental abscess ( infection at the root tip of a tooth ) increases the risk of coronary artery disease, even if there no pain. The study states, “Acute coronary syndrome (heart attack) is 2.7 times more common among patients with untreated teeth in need of root canal treatment than among patients without this issue.” In short, this study suggest a substantially higher risk of heart attacks among those with untreated abscessed (dead) teeth. Dental abscess is a reaction of the body to microbial infection of the dental pulp, the nerve and blood vessels in the canals of the root. Dental caries (cavities) is the most common cause of abscesses.

Gum infections have been found to be associated with many common chronic diseases. Low grade inflammation generated by oral infections is postulated to be an independent risk factor for coronary artery disease and diabetes. This is the first study to link need for root canal to heart disease.

In this study of 508 Finnish patients with a mean age of 62 years who were experiencing heart symptoms, 58 per cent were found to be suffering from one or more dental abscesses. Furthermore these dental abscesses were connected with a high level of serum antibodies related to common bacteria. Thus a dental abscess, whether painful or not, can affect other parts of the body as well. Cardiovascular diseases cause more than 30 per cent of deaths globally. They can be prevented by a healthy diet, weight control, exercise and not smoking. With regard to the health of the heart, measures should be taken to prevent or treat oral infections, as they are very common and often asymptomatic. Root canal treatment of an infected tooth may eliminate an unnecessary risk of heart disease.

In other words, root canal treatment can save lives.


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