The health of your gums can say a lot about your cardiovascular health. Based on this well-established connection, scientists now claim they can predict heart disease using a 30-second oral saline rinse in young, otherwise healthy people.

In the latest study, researchers evaluated if white blood cells in the saliva – linked to gum disease – can be an early indicator of poor arterial health and cardiovascular disease.

Previous studies have shown people with periodontitis – a serious gum infection that results in teeth loss – are at increased risk of heart disease. The symptoms of periodontitis include painful chewing, bad breath, swelling and bleeding of the gums.

Researchers believe that in patients with periodontitis, inflammatory factors may enter the bloodstream through the gums, causing cardiovascular damage.

"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," said Trevor King from the Mount Royal University in Canada, who was the corresponding author of the study.

The study included 28 non-smokers between the ages of 18 and 30, with no comorbidities. The participants did not have any reported history of periodontal disease and did not take any medications that could affect their cardiovascular risk.

All participants were asked to fast for six hours, except for drinking water before reporting at the lab. At the lab, they were made to rinse their mouth with tap water for 10 seconds and with a saline solution for 30 seconds. The saline rinse samples were collected for lab analysis.

After the oral rinse, researchers took an electrocardiogram (ECG) and checked the blood pressure, pulse wave velocity (a measure of arterial stiffness) and flow-mediated dilation (a measure of arterial dilation) of the participants.

Those with high white blood cells in the saliva showed poor flow-mediated dilation associated with cardiovascular disease.

"The mouth rinse test could be used at your annual checkup at the family doctor or the dentist. It is easy to implement as an oral inflammation measuring tool in any clinic," said co-author Michael Glogauer, of the University of Toronto, Canada.