The FDA takes a cautious approach to recommending low-dose aspirin for your heart, a connection boosted by a recent study, and we’re still in the early stages of understanding the cancer prevention effects of aspirin, made more significant by a recent large study in Britain. However, in the complex cost-benefit analysis of this treatment, there’s something you should remember is in the benefit column: low-dose aspirin can reduce damage from gum disease.
Discovering the Benefits of Low-Dose Aspirin
Most people think that gum disease damages the gums and bones because of the presence of bacteria which attacks gums and teeth. This is true of tooth decay and infected teeth, but when it comes to gum disease, the invading bacteria are only half the story. The other reason why your gums and bones are damaged is your body’s own inflammatory response. Controlling this response can reduce the damage to your gums and reduce your risk of tooth loss.
Since the 1980s, we’ve known that high doses of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin and related drugs like ibuprofen, could control this inflammatory response and protect your teeth and gums. But with the side effects of these drugs, it wasn’t worth the risk of taking full doses of aspirin or ibuprofen to achieve this effect.
Then the medical community realized that low-dose aspirin could help protect the heart and circulatory system. More people began taking low-dose aspirin, and it became clear that this seemed to improve gum health, inspiring a wave of research, such as this study of men age 50 and above. Looking at smokers, non-smokers, and those who were or were not taking low-dose aspirin, the study revealed that, yes, indeed low-dose aspirin did protect the gums. Both smokers and nonsmokers experienced better gum attachment if they took low-dose aspirin.
Confirming the Results
A more recent study (2012), confirmed the benefits of low-dose aspirin for gum attachment. This study focused on a smaller group of people and attempted to determine whether a higher dosage of aspirin (150 mg/day vs. 75 mg/day) led to better benefit. This study demonstrated that those who took low-dose aspirin had a significantly smaller average pocket depth than those who weren’t taking aspirin (2.01 mm vs. 2.38 mm). Pocket depth is a measure of the progress of gum detachment. The study revealed, too, that the amount of time you’d been taking aspirin mattered, too–the longer the better.
It’s important to talk to your doctor before taking any daily medication, but when you’re trying to decide whether this is right for you, remember the oral health benefits as well. If you are looking for a Rockland County dentist who can help protect your oral health, please call 845-627-7645 for an appointment at B & D Dental Excellence.