Dental hygienists play an intricate role in managing the oral health of their patients, which also extends to systemic health. Research conducted by University of Michigan researchers has clarified the association between periodontal care status and hospitalization for acute myocardial infarction and the likelihood of follow-up visits 30 days following acute care.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, provides insights into the importance of early intervention periodontal care for patients with risk factors for acute myocardial infarction.1
The researchers conducted a retrospective cohort study of patients who experienced myocardial infarction during the years 2016-2018. They analyzed the patients’ medical histories to determine their dental care status and how it impacted their recovery.1
The study looked at patients who received active periodontal care (non-surgical periodontal therapy), controlled periodontal care (maintenance), regular or other dental care, and no dental care. The goal was to observe the length of hospital stays and follow-up visits in the 30 days after acute care.1
The study yielded results that have implications for dental hygienists and healthcare professionals alike. Patients who received periodontal maintenance care showed the shortest length of hospital stay and reduced downstream hospital resource use compared to the no-dental-care group. Although there was no statistically significant difference between the active periodontal care and regular care groups and the no-care group, the findings underscore the importance of oral health in overall well-being.1
While the study did not establish a causal relationship between periodontal disease and heart disease, it added weight to the growing understanding that oral health and overall health are associated.1
With approximately 800,000 myocardial infarctions occurring in the United States annually, identifying and addressing risk factors becomes paramount. Patients with periodontal disease face an increased risk of hospitalization for acute myocardial infarction.1
One key takeaway from the study is the importance of improved communication and collaboration between dental and medical teams. By working together, we can identify patients at risk and implement early preventive measures to ensure better overall outcomes. Dental hygienists can actively engage in interdisciplinary communication and contribute valuable insights to the patient’s overall health care plan.1
The study emphasizes the association between periodontal care and myocardial infarction recovery. Understanding and promoting this association can contribute to better patient outcomes and overall health. Let us continue to champion the integration of dental care into routine medical care and work collaboratively with medical teams to ensure the well-being of our patients.
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- Nalliah, R.P., Basu, T., Chang, C.H. Association Between Periodontal Care and Hospitalization with Acute Myocardial Infarction. Journal of the American Dental Association. 2022; 153(8): 776-786.E2. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adaj.2022.02.003