Gum disease occurs when bacteria that are present in plaque, affect the tissues that hold the teeth in the jaw. The resulting inflammation can gradually damage blood vessels, leading to atherosclerosis and heart disease. Doctors have long known about the relationship between gum disease and heart disease in adults, but the effect of the oral cavity condition in childhood on the heart health of people at a later age has been little studied.
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During the tests, the specialists studied the data of children aged 6, 9 and 12 years. Most participants had caries or periodontal disease. Only 5% of children had good oral health. Participants were watched until they were 33, 36, and 39 years old, respectively. Assessing the thickness of the carotid artery using ultrasound scanning, the experts concluded that the presence of both caries and periodontal diseases increases the likelihood of dangerous thickening of the carotid artery in adulthood. Thus, oral diseases are an independent risk factor for the development of subclinical atherosclerosis, therefore, the prevention and treatment of oral infections are important already in early childhood, scientists say.