A study reveals that people who have periodontal disease and lose a lot of teeth are more likely to have a stroke, but researchers aren't sure about the relationship between fewer teeth and higher risk of stroke.
The study which used data on 41,376 men found that men with fewer teeth generally consumed large amounts of alcohol, were physically less active, were older and were more likely to smoke, all of which are risk factors for stroke. However, the lead author, Kaumudi J. Joshipura, claims that these risk factors alone do not suffice, to explain the association. One more counterintuitive finding of the study was the relationship between fewer teeth and higher risk of stroke among nonsmokers.
The study which was conducted over a period of 12 years involved answering of health questionnaires by the subjects, who were mostly professionals who were believed to have good "health habits". During the 12 year period, around 347 strokes happened and men with fewer than 25 teeth while entering the study showed a 57 per cent higher chance of a stroke than those with more than 25 teeth. More specifically, the risk was 48 percent higher for men with 18 to 24 teeth, 72 percent more for men with 10 to 17 teeth, and 64 percent higher for men with 9 or fewer teeth.
A hypothesis that is gaining momentum is that the infection associated to periodontal disease and tooth loss causes inflammation that affects the arteries. Doctors also claim that earlier studies have shown that tooth loss is related to disease of the carotid artery, the main artery to the brain.
Whatever the explanation, the relationship is a good enough reason for better dental care!