People who have received periodontal maintenance care stayed in the hospital for the shortest time after a heart attack, a new study shows.

The conventional wisdom is that medical and dental care are related, but less is known about how dental care relates to health outcomes after acute incidents like heart attacks.

To that end, researchers studied patients receiving periodontal care, dental cleanings, or no dental care during 2016-2018 and who had a heart attack (acute myocardial infarction) in 2017.

In addition to the shorter length of hospital stay, the researchers also found that patients who had periodontal care also had more follow-up visits after a heart attack.

People in the no-dental-care group had the longest length of stay.

“After controlling for several factors, the periodontal care group had higher odds of having post-hospital visits,” says Romesh Nalliah, associate dean for patient services at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry and coauthor of the study in the Journal of the American Dental Association.

There was no statistically significant difference between the other groups (active periodontal care and regular care) compared to the no-care group.

The study did not establish a causal relationship between periodontal disease and heart disease, but research like this adds weight to the understanding that there is an association between oral health and overall health, Nalliah says.

There are 800,000 myocardial infarctions in the United States annually, and those with periodontal disease are at increased risk for hospitalization after a heart attack, he says.

Read the full article about periodontal care by Laura Bailey at Futurity.