More than 15,000 patients with chronic coronary heart disease provided information on their dental health, with results showing that indicators of periodontal disease (fewer remaining teeth, gum bleeding) were common in this patient group and associated with numerous cardiovascular and socioeconomic risk factors. Conversely, a lower prevalence of tooth loss was associated with lower levels of cardio vascular disease risk factors, including lower glucose levels, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, systolic blood pressure, and waist circumference. Diabetes and smoking were also less prevalent among patients with more teeth, while the likelihood of higher education, alcohol consumption and work stress was greater.
Results showed a high overall prevalence of tooth loss: 16% reported having no teeth, and 41% reported having fewer than 15 remaining teeth. Approximately one-quarter of the patients (26%) reported gum bleeding when brushing teeth. However, there was some variation in these results depending on region, country and ethnic group, with the highest rates of tooth loss and gum bleeding found in Eastern Europe. Overall, almost 70% of participants were current or former smokers.
However, Dr. Ola Vedin from the University of Sweden added, the observation that poor dental health among chronic coronary patients is linked to a heavier cardiovascular risk burden does not prove a causal link between the two conditions. But it may prove to be a marker or indicator of heart disease. As a result we would not go so far as to advocate rigorous dental hygiene measures as a strategy to reduce cardiovascular risk. What might be examined is the need to refer patients to a physician for further examination of their global health.
Novy Scheinfeld, DDS, PC
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 The European Journal of Preventive Cardiology: a journal of the European Society of Cardiology
 Vedin O, Hagstro¨m E, Gallup D, et al. Periodontal disease in patients with chronic coronary heart disease: Prevalence and association with cardiovascular risk factors. Eur J Prevent Cardiol 2014; DOI: 10.1177/2047487314530660.