Tooth loss increases risk of cardiovascular diseases

Researchers have identified a clear link between periodontis, calcification of the carotid artery and heart disease.

Scientists at Malmö University are stressing the importance for dental and health care services to work more closely together as a consequence.

The research, conducted by doctoral student Viveca Wallin Bengtsson, forms part of the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care (SNAC).

This study aims to identify the need for care in the older population over time.

The main objective of the thesis was to study the relationship between periodontitis, cardiovascular diseases and death.

Older people with periodontitis are at increased risk of dying compared to people without periodontitis.

‘It is clear that people with periodontis are more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases and also have an increased risk of dying,’ explains Wallin Bengtsson.

Wallin Bengtsson has studied the relationship between atherosclerosis and periodontis.

She wanted to see if calcifications seen on X-rays over a period of 13 years are associated with the onset of stroke and/or cardiovascular diseases.

Examining the presence of calcifications

Another objective was to investigate whether individuals with periodontitis were at greater risk of having an event of ischemic stroke or death during a follow-up period of 17 years.

For this purpose, people aged 60 and over and living in the Karlskrona area, the only location where SNAC monitored dental services, are included in the study.

Scientists examined the presence of calcifications and the bone level around the teeth.

‘Being able to conduct such long-term follow-up studies is rather unique,’ explains Dr Wallin Bengtsson.

Periodontitis increases the risks of older people dying, when compared to people without periodontitis.

Those with the disease are more likely to have calcification of the carotid artery,

Calcification of the carotid artery is linked to cardiovascular diseases. Periodontitis increases risks for ischemic heart diseases over time.

Importance of examining X-rays closely

Dr Wallin Bengtsson emphasised the importance of dentists carefully analysing any panoramic X-rays taken.

Inflammation that occurs with periodontitis can lead to fat deposits and plaque in other arteries of the body.

‘The mouth is a vital part of our body,’ she says.

‘Dental and health care services must therefore work more closely together.

‘Inform the patient, when the X-ray detects calcification. They are referred to the health care services for further investigation.

‘Furthermore, a closer collaboration would lead to improved preventive dental care.,’ she adds.