Losing a tooth due to gum disease may be more serious than you think. New research shows tooth loss could be linked to cardiovascular disease.
Researchers in Minnesota studied more than 700 patients to determine if losing a tooth is a risk factor for heart disease. Participants had a dental, physical and neurological exam prior to taking part in the study. None of the patients had a history of heart disease or stroke, and all were older than age 55.
The dental hygiene habits of the participants, including the number of times they brushed and flossed per week, were recorded by the researchers. Patients also underwent an ultrasound to detect any plaque build-up in their arteries.
Results of the study show prevalence of plaque in the arteries correlates with the number of teeth missing. Patients who lost the most teeth had the greatest chance of developing plaque buildup. Among those missing zero to nine teeth, 45 percent had plaque buildup in their artery vessels. Sixty percent of those missing 10 or more teeth had buildup in their arteries.
Researchers say the participants with gum disease also had other cardiovascular risk factors. Many of them smoked, had poor eating habits, and did not exercise. However, authors of the study say tooth loss may be more than a simple indicator of lifestyle because the cardiovascular-risk relationship remained after accounting for other risk factors, including cultural, physical, and socioeconomic factors.