Simple mouth wash may detect signs of heart disease

Posted by watchmen
May 16, 2024


By Dr. Joseph Lim

A small amount of saliva sample may provide the crucial indicators of cardiovascular disease. A simple mouth rinse could do the trick.

“The mouth rinse test could be used at your annual checkup at the family doctor or the dentist,” said Dr. Michael Glogauer of the University of Toronto, co-author of the study published in Frontiers in Oral Health. “It is easy to implement as an oral inflammation measuring tool in any clinic.”

Levels of white blood cells may raise the red flag for cardiovascular disease. That’s because high levels of white blood cells indicate that the flow in the artery has been compromised. High levels of white blood cells are signs of gum inflammation.

Periodontitis, the more serious case of gum disease, is linked with cardiovascular disease. This is significant since cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in North America.

“Even in young healthy adults, low levels of oral inflammatory load may have an impact on cardiovascular health,” said Dr. Trevor King of Mount Royal University, the corresponding author of the study.

Regular dental checkups and maintaining good oral health is always desirable, he said.

Dr. King and co-researchers looked at healthy young people without gum issues. They wanted to find out if gum inflammation is linked to cardiovascular issues.

If oral health is found to heighten the risk of cardiovascular disease even in young healthy people, preventive management can be put in place earlier, said Ker-Yung Hong, first author of the study now studying dentistry at the University of Western Ontario. “We are starting to see more relationships between oral health and risk of cardiovascular disease.”

Researchers measured the stiffness of arteries to show how arteries can dilate well enough to allow normal blood flow. If the dilation is restricted, it may be a sign of cardiovascular risk.

The study involved 28 non-smokers aged between 18 and 30, with no known ailments or history of gum disease. The research participants said they did not take medicines that could raise the risk of cardiovascular disease. Except for drinking water, they were not allowed to ingest any foods.

The research subjects were told to gargle with water before rinsing their mouths with saline, the latter for analysis. Electrocardiograms were taken, followed by measurements of their blood pressure, and tests to show if the artery is dilated.

The study found that high levels of white blood cells in saliva indicated dilation, a sign of a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

The researchers believe that inflammation from the mouth affects the vascular system and ultimately the arteries, limiting the production of nitric oxide important to blood flow.

The researchers now plan to expand the pilot study to cover more participants, including those with gingivitis and more advanced gum disease. They hope to find out more about how gum disease increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.



Dr. Joseph D. Lim, Ed. D., is the former Associate Dean of the College of Dentistry, University of the East; former Dean, College of Dentistry, National University; Past President and Honorary Fellow of the Asian Oral Implant Academy; Honorary Fellow of the Japan College of Oral Implantologists; Honorary Life Member of the Thai Association of Dental Implantology; and Founding Chairman of the Philippine College of Oral Implantologists. For questions on dental health, e-mail or text 0917-8591515.



Dr. Kenneth Lester Lim, BS-MMG, DDM, MSc-OI, graduated Doctor of Dental Medicine, University of the Philippines, College of Dentistry, Manila, 2011; Bachelor of Science in Marketing Management, De la Salle University, Manila, 2002; and Master of Science (MSc.) in Oral Implantology, Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany, 2019. He is an Associate Professor; Fellow, International Congress of Oral Implantologists; Member, American Academy of Implant Dentistry and Fellow, Philippine College of Oral Implantologists. For questions on dental health, e-mail

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *