Faculty and Staff, Periodontology, Research

Early Study Results Show Secondary Stroke Events May Be Reduced with Dental Care

At today’s American Heart Association (AHA) International Stroke Conference, research was presented that demonstrates that secondary stroke events in patients with periodontal disease occur less often when subjects received proper dental care. The study was led by Souvik Sen, MD, MPH, of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. Study co-authors are University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Adams School of Dentistry faculty members Cristiano Susin, DDS, MS, PhD, and James Beck, MS, PhD.

The data presented at the AHA this afternoon are early findings from the Periodontal Treatment to Eliminate Minority Inequality and Rural Disparities in Stroke (PREMIERS) Study. The study examined a population of 280 subjects who had experienced a recent stroke and had periodontal disease, with the ultimate goal of determining if care for the periodontal disease reduced the instance of a second stroke.

Study subjects were split into two groups – one receiving standard periodontal treatment and one receiving intensive periodontal treatment – to see if one group fared better than the other. Standard treatment included regular hand-toothbrushing and removal of plaque similar to that at a routine dental visit. Intensive treatment included two plaque removals, extraction of hopeless teeth, antibiotics, and use of mouthwash, an electric toothbrush and an air flosser.

“What we saw in this limited number of participants is that any level of periodontal care following a stroke seems to reduce the chances of a second stroke event,” said Susin. “We already know that periodontal disease is associated with several systemic diseases and conditions, so this outcome, while not surprising, is significant for the long-term health of those who recently had a stroke.”

The PREMIERS Study did not find any significant difference in reduction in stroke events between subjects who received standard card versus intensive care. It also shows a preliminary indication that there may be reductions in blood pressure for both groups, and in HDL cholesterol for the standard group, although additional studies are needed to confirm these findings.

“While we are encouraged by these results, there is certainly the need for further investigation of these findings on a larger scale,” said Beck. “We are encouraged by these results and hope that people who have experienced a stoke – and those who have not – will be sure to take care of their oral health to the best of their ability.”