Nidah Barber was concerned when she first learned she had gum disease.
"It was scary because you know, I'm like well, I could have gingivitis and actually have a heart problem, or it could lead to something you know major in my health," she said.
For years studies have suggested that bacteria in the mouth can get into the bloodstream and cause heart problems. But a new statement from the American Heart Association says there is no proof gum disease causes heart disease or stroke.
"The data that's available right now would suggest there's no direct relationship there," said Dr. Peter Lockhart of Carolina's Health Care System.
After reviewing hundreds of studies, researchers also say that treating gum disease, including brushing and flossing, does not reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Experts say the same risk factors can cause both diseases, so many people who smoke, have diabetes or high blood pressure can suffer gum and heart problems.
Dentists like Salomon Maya says more research is needed and that taking care of your mouth is still key.
"One thing that I believe in is that oral health is really an indicator of your general health," Maya said.
Barber is trying to keep her gum disease under control.
"I have floss in the car, floss in my purse," Barber said.
And she sees her dentist every three months for cleanings.
An American Heart Association expert committee made up of cardiologists, dentists and infectious disease specialists published the statement in the journal Circulation.
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