Losing two or more teeth in middle age is linked to higher cardiovascular disease risk, according to recent research.
Previous studies have shown that dental health problems, such as periodontal disease and tooth loss, are related to inflammation, diabetes, smoking and consuming less healthy diets.
In addition, dental health issues are associated with an 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 the study, researchers analyzed the impact of tooth loss in large studies of adults, aged 45 to 69 years.
These people had reported on the numbers of natural teeth they had, then in a follow-up questionnaire, reported recent tooth loss.
Adults in this analysis didn’t have cardiovascular disease when the studies began.
The researchers prospectively studied the occurrence of tooth loss during an eight-year period and followed the case of cardiovascular disease among people with no tooth loss, one tooth lost and two or more teeth lost over 12-18 years.
They found among the adults with 25 to 32 natural teeth at the study’s start, those who lost two or more teeth had a 23% higher risk of cardiovascular disease, compared to those with no tooth loss.
The higher risk occurred regardless of diet quality, physical activity, body weight and other cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
There wasn’t a notable increase in cardiovascular disease risk among those who reported losing one tooth.
Cardiovascular disease risk among all the participants increased by 16% among those losing two or more teeth during the study period, compared to those who didn’t lose any teeth.
Adults with less than 17 natural teeth, versus 25 to 32, at the study’s start, were 25% more likely to have cardiovascular disease.
The findings suggest that middle-aged people 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 other risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Therefore, people, especially at their middle age, should take care of their tooth health to protect their heart.
The study is presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention | Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2018.
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