The American Dental Association (ADA) Council on Scientific Affairs has agreed with the conclusions of a recent report that current scientific evidence does not establish a direct cause and effect relationship between gum disease and heart disease or stroke. Additionally, the evidence does not establish that gum disease increases the rate of heart disease or stroke.

The report, which examined 537 peer-reviewed studies on the subject, was published last month in the American Heart Association’s (AHA) journal Circulation.

According to the report, there is a body of research showing that gum disease is associated with several health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, but just because two conditions are associated with each other does not mean that one causes the other. For example, both heart disease and gum disease share common risk factors, such as smoking and diabetes.

The AHA report acknowledges the value of good oral hygiene to maintain good overall health but notes that current scientific data do not indicate whether regular brushing and flossing or treatment of gum disease can decrease the incidence of atherosclerosis, which is the narrowing of the arteries that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

The ADA’s Council on Scientific Affairs, which is made up of ADA member dentists who are scientific experts, appointed a representative to the AHA expert committee that developed the report. The Council then reviewed the report and agreed with its conclusions.