In a recent study, a poor oral health diagnosis was a stronger predictor of heart disease than other standard markers, such as high levels of fibrinogen (a clotting factor), low HDL ("good") cholesterol or high triglycerides.
Researchers compared the oral health data of 256 cardiac patients to 250 non-cardiac patients with similar demographic characteristics. Results of the study show the strongest predictor of coronary disease was pericoronitis, an infection around the third molar. The second strongest was root remnants, meaning patients' teeth were so decayed that only the tip of the root remained, and gingivitis, or gum inflammation. The least strongest predictors were cavities and missing teeth.
Researchers say since the study has shown an association between oral disease and coronary heart disease, it is better that dentists recommend or consider cardiac examinations to patients who have poor oral health even if they do not have symptoms of heart disease.