Some people are petrified to see a dentist, fearing a tooth extraction, but there’s a greater threat for them: heart trouble down the road.
A study showed a link between loss of at least two teeth in middle age, and increased risk of a cardiovascular ailment.
Dental problems are associated with body-wide inflammation and diabetes, says the study, which was led by Lu Qi, professor of epidemiology at Tulane University in New Orleans.
“Previous research has also found that dental health issues are associated with elevated risk of cardiovascular disease,” says Qi in the report.
However, much of that research examined total tooth loss in a person’s life, which would include losing teeth in childhood due to cavities or trauma.
But to focus only on tooth loss during middle age adds a new dimension because this is more likely related to body-wide inflammation.
Qi’s analysis involved people 45 to 69, for which these participants responded to a questionnaire.
At the start of the study, none of the participants had been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease.
Tooth loss was followed for eight years, and then over a 12 to 18 year period, the incidence of cardiovascular disease was tracked among the participants who’d had lost no teeth; those who’d lost one tooth; and then two or more.
• People who’d lost at least two teeth had a 23 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those who’d lost no teeth.
• Diet, body weight, physical activity, blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol were adjusted for – which makes the study results all the more polarizing.
• Strangely, there was not a noteworthy increase in cardiovascular illness in subjects with only one lost tooth.
• The number of natural teeth at the beginning of the study did not factor into the results; what counted was only if at least two teeth were eventually lost.
Qi also points out that self-reporting of tooth loss was a limiting factor of the study. Nevertheless, the results are reaslly something to reflect on.
If you’ve lost at least two teeth in middle age (not due to trauma), you’d better start thinking about your heart.
No cause and effect has been determined; the link between tooth loss and heart problems is only associative. But that’s all you need to know to take measures to improve your heart health.