Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Letters Gums and heart disease

Healthy gums, healthy heart?

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 13 July 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c3710

Rapid Response:

Association & Causation


Dr Yeung's letter was very interesting and informative (C Albert
Yeung Healthy gums, healthy heart? BMJ 2010; 341).

There has been an increasing number of papers published recently on
the 'link' between gum disease and systemic disease. e.g.

Does Periodontal Treatment Improve General Health? Dent. Update 2010;
37: 206-212;

Is Oral Health a Risk for Malignant Disease? Dent. Update 2010; 37:

Readers may be forgiven for not recognising having read some of these
papers, that association and causation are different entities, and that
people/patients who are health-oriented may have healthy habits (including
dental habits) and so also may have less systemic disease. This is not
always clearly stated in some publications.

Health messages that improve general and oral health are to be
commended, but claims that brushing the teeth and gums might prevent
cardiovascular disease and malignancy are, I believe, yet to be proved

Yours sincerely

Phil Atkin

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

19 July 2010
Phil A Atkin
Consultant, Oral Medicine
Cardiff Dental Hospital