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Periodontal diseases can affect the tooth-supporting structures, resulting in tooth loss. They may also increase the risk of death as a new study has shown. (Photograph: Tashatuvango/Shutterstock)
0 Comments Apr 6, 2017 | News Americas

Study links periodontal disease, tooth loss and higher risk of death

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BUFFALO, N.Y., USA: A new study has suggested that overall mortality in the general population and older women in particular could be reduced by improving periodontal health. Evaluating data on over 57,000 postmenopausal women, researchers at the University at Buffalo found that presence of periodontitis and tooth loss is associated with a significantly higher risk of death.

The women in the study were aged between 55–89, had no known cardiovascular disease events and were originally enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative observational study. In the study population, the prevalence of periodontitis and edentulism was 26 percent and 5.9 percent, respectively.

During a mean follow-up period of 6.7 years, the researchers recorded 3,589 cardiovascular disease events and 3,816 deaths. They also found that a history of periodontal disease was associated with a 12 percent higher risk of death and the loss of all natural teeth was associated with a 17 percent higher risk.

In women who saw the dentist less than once a year, edentulism was more strongly associated with cardiovascular disease events compared with those with more dental visits per year.

“Our findings suggest that older women may be at higher risk for death because of their periodontal condition and may benefit from more intensive oral screening measures,” said Dr. Michael J. LaMonte, lead author and research associate professor in the university’s Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health. “However, studies of interventions aimed at improving periodontal health are needed to determine whether risk of death is lowered among those receiving the intervention compared to those who do not. Our study was not able to establish a direct cause and effect.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 50 percent of adults in the U.S. aged 30 and over have some form of periodontal disease. It is estimated that about 20 percent of adults aged 65 and over in the country are edentulous.

The study, titled “History of periodontitis diagnosis and edentulism as predictors of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and mortality in postmenopausal women,” was published in the April issue of the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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