Periodontitis or ‘gum disease”, is a chronic inflammatory disease in the gums, which appears as gingival bleeding, loose teeth and deepened periodontal pockets. It may result in the loss of teeth if left untreated, and is the most common cause of tooth loss in the middle aged and elderly.
However did you know that heart disease and diabetes, the most common causes of death worldwide are known to associate with inflammatory oral diseases, such as periodontitis. Also missing teeth may predict future cardiovascular events; advanced tooth loss can often indicate that a person has a history of inflammatory oral diseases.
Now for the ‘science’ ……
In a study carried out by the University of Helsinki (Finland) in collaboration with The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), an association was found between tooth loss and future cardiovascular events, diabetes and death.
The researchers suggests that the number of missing teeth could be a useful additional indicator for general medical practitioners, when individual risk factors for chronic diseases are assessed.
The National FINRISK 1997 Study is a Finnish population-based survey of 8,446 subjects, aged 25-75, who filled in a comprehensive questionnaire and participated in clinical examinations. The number of missing teeth was recorded at baseline and information on incident disease events and deaths was obtained via national registers in a 13-year follow-up.
The results showed:
- More than five missing teeth increased the risk for coronary heart disease events and myocardial infarctions by as much as 140%; and,
- More than nine missing teeth indicated an increased risk for cardiovascular diseases (51%), diabetes (31%) and death (37%).
Now for the good news, prevention is the best cure! Periodontitis, more commonly referred to as ‘gum disease, can be treated most successfully with regular visits to your dentist and hygienist.