University of Michigan Study Demonstrates Better Outcomes for Perio Patients Post Heart Attack

This study from the University of Michigan researched heart attack patients who received perio care, finding that they spent less time in the hospital.

Researchers at the University of Michigan (UM), UM School of Dentistry, have found that patients who had cardiac events and received periodontal maintenance care had the shortest length of stay in the hospital, and more follow-up visits, according to a news article from UM. This demonstrates the strong link between medical and dental systems in the body, particularly the heart, according to co-author of the study and associate dean for patient services, Romesh Nalliah.

“Dentistry is often practiced in isolation from overall health care,” Nalliah said in the article. “Our results add weight to the evidence that medical and dental health care closely interrelated. More and more studies like ours are showing that it is a mistake to practice medicine without the thoughtful consideration of the patient’s oral health.”

The study, which was published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, examined patients receiving periodontal care, dental cleanings, or no dental care from the years 2016 to 2018 and who had heart attacks in 2017. There was no statistically significant difference between the groups, according to the article.

With hundreds of thousands of heart attacks in the United States each year, understanding how to better serve these patients is important, and a key to that could be factoring in insurance, according to Nalliah.

“It is important to include dental care in routine medical care,” Nalliah said. “And this means insurances must facilitate this connection rather than offer dental insurance as a separate add-on coverage.”

This study was co-authored by senior statistician at the Michigan Hospital Medicine Safety Consortium, Tanima Basu, and research assistant professor at Michigan Medicine, Chiang-Hua Chang. It is available here.