DETROIT - Despite years of scientific scrutiny -- experts now say there's *no* proof that gum disease causes strokes or heart attacks.
It is true that bacteria from infected gums can get into the bloodstream. And doctors suspected that circulating bacteria might lead to problems throughout the cardiovascular system ... including atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.
But after pouring through hundreds of studies based on that suspicion, a team of experts - including dentists and cardiologists - found no evidence it's true.
The American Heart Association released a scientific statement detailing the committee's findings.
The link between poor gums and poor heart health seems to be circumstantial.
And doctors have a new concern when it comes to the heart.
"We're seeing a lot of heart disease in younger people and that's because we've taken our focus away from the traditional factors of activity, weight, diet, smoking," said dr. David Frid, a cardiologist with the cleveland clinic.
No one thinks oral hygiene should be ignored. But this could help doctors and patients re-focus heart disease prevention efforts like quitting smoking, regular exercise and maintaining a health diet.
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