Swedish thesis confirms link between periodontitis and risk of cardiovascular diseases
MALMÖ, Sweden: Tooth loss, the final outcome of periodontitis, has previously been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. A study conducted at the University of Malmö for a doctoral thesis investigated the relationship between periodontitis, cardiovascular diseases and mortality. It was found that periodontitis causes an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and death in older people. Therefore, the paper stressed the importance of dental and overall healthcare services working more closely together.
The research was conducted by doctoral student Dr Viveca Wallin Bengtsson, from the Department of Oral Health in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Kristianstad University in Sweden, as a part of the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care (SNAC).
Wallin Bengtsson studied the relationship between atherosclerosis and periodontitis, and whether calcifications seen on radiographs over a period of 13 years were associated with the onset of stroke and cardiovascular diseases.
Another objective of the study was to investigate whether individuals with periodontitis were at greater risk of having an event of ischaemic stroke or dying during a follow-up period of 17 years. For this purpose, people aged 60 and older and living in the Karlskrona area, the only location where SNAC monitored dental services, were included.
Using panoramic dental radiographs, Wallin Bengtsson examined the bone level around teeth and the presence of calcifications. “Being able to conduct such long-term follow-up studies is rather unique,” she explained.
The study results showed that elderly people with periodontitis are more likely to have a calcified carotid artery. “It is clear that people with periodontitis are more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases and also have an increased risk of dying,” said Wallin Bengtsson.
Furthermore, she emphasised the importance of dentists carefully analysing any panoramic radiographs taken, because the inflammation that occurs in connection with periodontitis can lead to fat deposits and plaque in other arteries of the body.
“The mouth is a vital part of our body. Dental and healthcare services must therefore work more closely together. When calcification is detected by X-ray, the patient must be informed and referred to the healthcare services for further investigation. Furthermore, a closer collaboration would lead to improved preventive dental care,” said Wallin Bengtsson.
The doctoral dissertation, titled Periodontitis, Carotid Calcifications and Future Cardiovascular Diseases in Older Individuals, was published in 2019 by the Faculty of Odontology at Malmö University.