Statins, a type of drug that lowers people’s blood-cholesterol levels, are the most commonly prescribed medication in the UK. That fact alone could be extremely positive for dentists, as new research indicates the drugs might have unexpected benefits with regards to dental health.
A study published in the Journal of Periodontology looked at patients that were taking statins, as well as a control group of people not on the drugs. Over a period of five years, the researchers noted that the statins were reducing the effects of gum disease and bone loss.
The overall effect of this was that the group that took statins for five years ended up being nearly three times less likely to lose a tooth than the control group. This is excellent news, however a leading dental health charity is keen to emphasise that this does not mean people on statins can ignore their oral hygiene.
Dr Nigel Carter, the chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, said: “There is plenty of evidence to suggest statins have several health benefits. Some people do remain on them for quite some time and it is encouraging to see this research highlighting a knock-on effect of this is better oral health.
“However, this does not mean people on statins can forego basic oral health principles. Tea, coffee, a healthy diet and not smoking are just a few things that have been linked to improved oral health, but they all require the foundations of a good oral care routine.”
Patients on statins might be glad to hear that they are at a reduced risk of gum disease and tooth loss, but the drugs are not a miracle cure-all. If people do not regularly brush their teeth, or keep up habits such as smoking or drinking heavily, they will leave themselves at a severe risk of developing tooth decay or more serious oral health conditions.