Tooth Loss and Heart Problem Connected

Midlife tooth loss may indicate a compromised heart

A recent study has concluded that tooth loss is connected to raising your risk of cardiovascular disease and affecting your heart health. The study also indicated that other factors, such as the presence or absence of diabetes, high blood pressure, or a poor diet, do not change the higher risk.

Age Is a Factor

Other studies had connected various dental problems, such as gum disease, to many overall health problems. This one, conducted by two different schools: the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, LA, and by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, focused on the impact of tooth loss in middle age and its impact on cardiovascular health.

This study looked at tooth loss during the middle age years to see how it affected people to determine if there was a connection between tooth loss and cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a broad term that is used to categorize diseases caused by problems with blood flow and various conditions that could affect the heart, brain, and of the arms and legs. Problems caused by CVD are the main cause of death today.

Previous Studies

Other studies dealing with the connection between oral health and overall health have revealed a connection. The bacteria involved in gum disease, particularly periodontal disease, have been found to help form many serious diseases ranging from heart disease to dementia.

This occurs because the products of inflammation, the bacteria in the mouth that causes the inflammation, and the elements of the body's immune system that fight it, cause buildups of plaque. This occurs in the main blood vessels and arteries, and it also occurs in the organs.

Other studies had only looked at the connection between missing teeth in general and CVD. It made no distinction as to the cause of tooth loss, which included problems such as accidents, teeth lost due to cavities in children, orthodontics, etc. Since some of these causes are completely unrelated, it may have led to inaccurate results.

The new study focused on adults who were between the ages of 45 to 69 years old so that it could determine the actual cause of CVD. None of the participants had CVD at the start of the study. The range of ages was selected because tooth loss would more likely be related to inflammation. Each participant in the study recorded the number of teeth lost at the start, and then again at the eight-year mark. Each participant was followed for the occurrence of CVD for the next 12 to 18 years.  

The New Findings

The new study found that when someone in their middle ages lost teeth, that it alone can predict the likely presence of cardiovascular disease. This study actually reverses the beliefs that were held earlier. Instead of causing the vascular disease and atherosclerosis, the new study now points to poor oral health as an indicator that cardiovascular disease already exists. This means that it can be used as a marker of CVD instead of the cause of it.

Tooth Loss and CVD

Once the study was completed, the participants were arranged in two categories: those with 25 to 32 teeth at the start of the study, and those with 18 to 24 teeth at the start, and those with less than 17 teeth. The study found that the participants who lost just one tooth during that time had no noticeable increased risk of CVD.

The participants who had lost two or more teeth since the start of the study had an increased risk of 16 percent of getting CVD. This is in comparison to those who lost no teeth.

Among those who had 25 to 32 natural teeth from the start, their risk of CVD was 23 percent higher than those who did not lose any teeth. For those with less than 17 teeth, their risk of CVD was slightly higher – 25 percent higher risk. Women who made less than one dental visit a year also had an elevated risk.

Another key aspect of this study was the discovery that the presence of other factors that may lead to CVD did not change the statistics. This includes diabetes, high blood pressure, a poor diet, and more.

Reducing Your Risk of CVD

The discovery that tooth loss may raise the risk of the presence of cardiovascular disease reveals that better health care is needed – especially among middle-aged and older adults. The presence of CVD raises the risk of heart attack and stroke, and both could be fatal.

If you have tooth loss, or suffer from periodontitis, you can get gum disease treatment in the Carrollton, TX, and Grapevine, TX areas, from Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist. He also performs cosmetic dentistry and can restore your smile, taking years off of your appearance. For a consultation or dental treatment for better dental health, you can contact his office today at (817) 756-8578.