Dental News - Middle-aged tooth loss linked to increased coronary heart disease risk

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Middle-aged tooth loss linked to increased coronary heart disease risk

Many studies have shown that dental health problems, such as periodontal disease and tooth loss, are related to inflammation, diabetes, smoking and following less-healthy diets. (Photograph: Maxop-Plus/

Mon. 9. April 2018


NEW ORLEANS, U.S.: Losing two or more teeth in middle age is associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, according to preliminary research. The findings were presented at the American Heart Association’s 2018 Epidemiology and Prevention | Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions, a premier global exchange of the latest advances in population-based cardiovascular science for researchers and clinicians.

In a collaborative research effort between the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, U.S., a team of researchers analyzed the impact of tooth loss in two large studies of adults. In the studies, the participants, aged 45–69 years, were asked to report on the numbers of natural teeth they had, then in a follow-up questionnaire, report on any recent cases of tooth loss. The adults in this analysis did not have cardiovascular disease when the studies began. The researchers prospectively studied the occurrence of tooth loss during an eight-year period and followed an incidence of cardiovascular disease among people with no tooth loss, one tooth lost and two or more teeth lost over 12–18 years.

It was found that, among the adults with 25–32 natural teeth at the respective study’s start, those who lost two or more teeth had a 23 percent increased risk of cardiovascular disease, compared with those with no tooth loss. The increased risk occurred regardless of reported diet quality, physical activity, body weight and other cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. There was not a notable increase in cardiovascular disease risk among those who reported losing one tooth during the respective study period. Cardiovascular disease risk among all the participants (regardless of the number of natural teeth at the respective study’s start) increased 16 percent among those who lost two or more teeth during the respective study period, compared with those who did not lose any teeth. Adults with less than 17 natural teeth, compared with 25–32 at the respective study’s start, were 25 percent more likely to have cardiovascular disease.

Study author and Professor of Epidemiology at Tulane University Dr. Lu Qi added: “Previous research has also found that dental health issues are associated with elevated risk of cardiovascular disease. However, most of that research looked at cumulative tooth loss over a lifetime, which often includes teeth lost in childhood due to cavities, trauma and orthodontics. Tooth loss in middle age is more likely related to inflammation, but it hasn’t been clear how this later-in-life tooth loss might influence cardiovascular disease risk.”

“In addition to other established associations between dental health and risk of disease, our findings suggest that middle-aged adults who have lost two or more teeth in the recent past could be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease. That’s regardless of the number of natural teeth a person has as a middle-aged adult, or whether they have traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as poor diet or high blood pressure,” Qi said.

The findings have not yet been published as a peer-reviewed paper. The abstract, titled “Changes in dental health and coronary heart disease risk: Two prospective cohort studies in men and women,” was published in the Circulation journal on March 20, 2018.

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