-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, March 7 (HealthDay News) -- For adults, losing teeth
is bad enough, but tooth loss is also associated with several risk
factors for heart disease, a large international study
These heart disease-related risk factors include diabetes,
obesity, high blood pressure and smoking.
For the study, researchers analyzed data from nearly 16,000
people in 39 countries who provided information about their
remaining number of teeth and the frequency of gum bleeds. About 40
percent of the participants had fewer than 15 teeth and 16 percent
had no teeth, while 25 percent reported gum bleeds.
For every decrease in the number of teeth, there was an increase
in the levels of a harmful enzyme that promotes inflammation and
hardening of the arteries. The study authors also noted that along
with fewer teeth came increases in other heart disease risk
markers, including "bad" LDL cholesterol levels and higher blood
sugar, blood pressure and waist size.
People with fewer teeth were also more likely to have diabetes,
with the risk increasing 11 percent for every significant decrease
in the number of teeth, the investigators found.
Being a current or former smoker was also linked to tooth loss,
according to the study scheduled for presentation Saturday at the
annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology (ACC), in San
Gum bleeds were associated with higher levels of bad cholesterol
and blood pressure.
Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data
and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in
a peer-reviewed journal.
The researchers added that it is still unclear what is behind
the association between tooth loss, gum health and heart
"Whether periodontal disease actually causes coronary heart disease remains to be shown. It could be that the two conditions share common risk factors independently," Dr. Ola Vedin, from the department of medical sciences at Uppsala University in Sweden, said in an ACC news release. "Those who believe that a causal relationship exists propose several theories, including systemic inflammation, the presence of bacteria in the blood from infected teeth and bacteria invading coronary plaques."
The U.S. National Institutes of Health outlines steps you can
reduce heart risks.
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