Losing your teeth by middle age is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease
09/13/2018 // Michelle Simmons // Views

Losing your teeth by middle age is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention | Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2018.

Earlier studies have shown that dental health issues, including periodontal disease and tooth loss, are linked to inflammation, diabetes, smoking, and consuming unhealthy diets. In addition, past research also found that dental health problems are associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease. However, most of that research focused on the cumulative tooth loss over a lifetime, which often includes teeth lost in childhood because of cavities, trauma, and orthodontics. On the other hand, losing teeth during middle age is more likely associated with inflammation. However, it is not clear how this might affect cardiovascular disease risk.

Therefore, a team of researchers at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health collaborated to assess the effect of tooth loss in large studies involving middle-aged adults. The research team evaluated studies of adults aged 45 to 69 years, wherein they had reported on the number of natural teeth they had. In a follow-up questionnaire, the study participants reported recent tooth loss. When the study started, the participants were free of cardiovascular disease. The team looked at the occurrence of tooth loss during an eight-year period and followed an incidence of cardiovascular disease among people with no tooth loss, one tooth lost, and two or more teeth lost within 12 to 18 years.


Results revealed that among the adults with 25 to 32 natural teeth at the beginning of the study, those who lost two or more teeth were 23 percent more at risk of cardiovascular disease than those who did not lose any tooth. Regardless of reported diet quality, physical activity, body weight, and other cardiovascular risk factors, the increased risk occurred.

Meanwhile, the team did not find a significant increase in cardiovascular disease risk among those who reported losing one tooth during the period of study. Moreover, all the participants, regardless of the number of natural teeth at the beginning of the study, who lost two or more teeth had a 16 percent greater risk of cardiovascular disease than those who did not lose any teeth. Furthermore, those with less than 17 natural teeth at the start of the study had a 25 percent increased risk of cardiovascular disease, compared to those with 25 to 32 teeth at the start.

“In addition to other established associations between dental health and risk of disease, our findings suggest that middle-aged adults who have lost two or more teeth in recent past could be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease,” said Lu Qi, study author, and professor at Tulane University.

The findings of the study indicated that tooth loss in middle age can be a sign of an increased cardiovascular disease risk. Thus, adults can take extra measures to reduce this risk early on. Here are some things you can do:

  • Stop smoking – Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of cardiovascular disease in women. In fact, more than half of heart attacks among middle-aged women can be attributed to tobacco.
  • Control your cholesterol – High blood cholesterol is a condition that greatly increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease. Extra cholesterol in the blood settles on the inner walls of the arteries, which narrows them and lets less blood to pass through them to the heart.
  • Maintain a healthy weight – Obesity and sedentary lifestyle are known to increase cardiovascular disease risk. Thus, it is important to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Exercise regularly – Moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking, is linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Have a healthy diet – Eat less saturated fat, more organic produce, and more fiber. Eating green leafy vegetables and vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables protect against coronary heart disease. (Related: An apple a day really does work: The flavonoid-rich fruit improves cardiovascular health, decreases risk of disease.)

Read more news stories and studies on other risk factors for heart disease at Heart.news.

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