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One Simple Oral Rinse Could Identify The Warning Signs Of Heart Disease

What a spit-take!


Dr. Beccy Corkill


Dr. Beccy Corkill

Custom Content Manager

Beccy is a custom content producer who holds a PhD in Biological Science, a Master’s in Parasites and Disease Vectors, and a Bachelor’s in Human Biology and Forensic Science.

Custom Content Manager

Lateral-Flow-Test covid rapid home-use test kit for saliva - step 1 - spit with mouth through funnel in plastic tube to collect sample - No more swabs in the throat or nose: just spit in a tube! Man spitting into a vial. Grey shirt.

You may see yourself spitting in vials in the doctor's office soon.

Image credit: Shotmedia/

In a small pilot study, scientists have developed a simple oral test that could eventually be a holistic approach to identifying early heart disease risks.

There is a strong link between mouth health and heart disease. Gum inflammation can lead to periodontitis, which is a serious gum infection that damages the soft tissue around teeth. It has long been known that inflammatory factors from periodontitis can go into the gums and damage the vascular system. Scientists have now investigated whether a simple mouth rinse could identify whether someone has this heart disease risk factor.  


The scientists developed tools to analyze samples for white blood cells, the level of which could indicate gum inflammation. The results of this test link high levels of white blood cells to a compromised flow-mediated dilation (the widening of the artery during blood flow) – an early indicator of poor arterial health.

“Even in young healthy adults, low levels of oral inflammatory load may have an impact on cardiovascular health — one of the leading causes of death in North America,” Dr Trevor King, corresponding author of the study, said in a statement.

“We are starting to see more relationships between oral health and risk of cardiovascular disease,” Ker-Yung Hong, first author of the paper, said. “If we are seeing that oral health may have an impact on the risk of developing cardiovascular disease even in young healthy individuals, this holistic approach can be implemented earlier on.”

The study looked at 28 healthy non-smoking individuals with no history of periodontal disease that were not on any medications that could affect cardiovascular health. They had to fast for six hours before visiting the lab, before rinsing their mouths with a saline rinse that was used in the analysis of this study.


The scientists also analyzed the pulse-wave velocity of the study participants to measure artery stiffness, along with analyzing the flow-mediated dilation. All factors can measure cardiovascular risk because stiff and poorly working arteries can increase heart disease risk.    

Results from the study found that a high white blood cell count in the saliva had a significant relationship to poor flow-mediation dilation, which indicated a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. However, there was no relationship between white blood cells and pulse wave velocity. This means that more research does need to take place as the longer-term health impacts had not been analyzed.  

There is a caveat to this research – it is currently a pilot study, so the team is planning to increase the study population and also include people that have advanced periodontitis and other gum diseases, and see how this is related to cardiovascular diseases.

If successful, this type of easy test could be implemented by family doctors and dentists as a way to analyze a person's cardiovascular disease risk.


Mouth health is always important. Even the way we sneeze can be very telling. So, for a healthy lifestyle, it is crucial that people maintain good oral hygiene and if you see any abnormal changes, you should always go visit your doctor or dentist. 

The study is published in the Frontiers in Oral Health


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