Missing teeth may predict future cardiovascular events



ADVANCED tooth loss can often indicate that a person has a history of inflammatory oral diseases. In an extensive cohort study, carried out by the University of Helsinki (Finland) in collaboration with The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), an association was found between tooth loss and future cardiovascular events, diabetes and death.

Lead researcher John Liljestrand suggests that the number of missing teeth could be a useful additional indicator for general medical practitioners, when individual risk factors for chronic diseases are assessed.

The manuscript is published in the Journal of Dental Research. The National FINRISK 1997 Study is a Finnish population-based survey of 8,446 subjects, aged 25 to 75, who filled a comprehensive questionnaire and participated in clinical examinations. The number of missing teeth was recorded at a baseline and information on incident disease events and deaths was obtained via national registers in a 13-year follow-up.

The results of the study showed: More than five missing teeth increased the risk for coronary heart disease events and myocardial infarctions as much as 140 per cent; and more than nine missing teeth indicated an increased risk for cardiovascular diseases (51 per cent), diabetes (31 per cent) and death (37 per cent).

Corresponding risks for edentulous subjects were 40-68 %. Traditional risk factors were taken into account in the statistical analyses. Adding information on missing teeth to established risk factors improved the risk discrimination of death.

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