New research has discovered that people taking statins for general health problems were almost three times less likely to suffer from tooth loss compared to those not on the drug.
Patients on statins were compared with those not on the drug over a period of five years, and after taking into account environment influences researchers discovered that use of statins could reduce the effect of gum disease and bone loss with the consequence of keeping teeth for longer.
Statins, often used to lower blood cholesterol levels, are the most commonly prescribed medicines in the UK. They can help to reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks, two problems that have been linked to increased poor oral health in the past.
Although the research is promising for patients currently on statins, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, believes there’s no excuse for not keeping to the charity’s key messages.
Dr Carter said: “There is plenty of evidence to suggest statins have several health benefits. Some people do remain on them for quite some time, and it is encouraging to see this research highlighting a knock-on effect of this is better oral health.
“However, this does not mean people on statins can forego basic oral health principals. Tea, coffee, a healthy diet and not smoking are just a few things that have been linked to improved oral health, but they all require the foundations of a good oral care routine.
“Gum disease affects most people at some point in their lives, so there is no excuse for ignoring good dental hygiene. The good news is that poor oral health is nearly always preventable, so it is important that people make caring for their teeth a top priority. Regular visits to the dentist, as often as they recommend, are really important to give the dentist a chance to assess your oral health and, if necessary, give your teeth a scale and polish.
“Doing this alone won't help your oral health. That's why I'd also encourage a simple routine of brushing teeth, twice a day for two minutes using a fluoride toothpaste, which will help to remove plaque – the cause of gum disease. It is also important to clean in between teeth using interdental brushes or floss.”
As well as keeping your mouth healthy, Dr Carter offered another reason to keep gums healthy, especially for patients with heart problems.
“A recent study in America looked at almost 350,000 patients with gum disease and discovered that after treatment for gum disease, on-going costs for those with strokes and heart problems decreased by more than 40 per cent and 10 per cent respectively.
“It shows the cost of prevention is far less than the costs and impact of emergency care. You may think you are being financially prudent but the reality is that the cost of neglecting your oral health is even higher. If you have heart problems, the benefits of keeping your mouth healthy are potentially life-saving.”