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Fewer Teeth May Mean More Heart Woes

Study finds association between tooth loss, cardiovascular disease

TUESDAY, Dec. 20, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- There's a strong link between tooth loss and heart disease, according to U.S. researchers.

A study of almost 42,000 American adults over the age of 40 found that heart disease was present in: 4.7 percent of those with no tooth loss, 5.7 percent of those with one to five teeth missing, 7.5 percent of those with six to 31 teeth missing, and 8.5 percent of those with total tooth loss.

"These results highlight the importance of health promotion counseling that includes the promotion of heart-healthy behaviors, the prevention and control of cardiovascular disease risk factors and the maintenance of good oral health," lead investigator Catherine Okoro, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a prepared statement.

Previous studies have also found an association between periodontal disease and tooth loss and an increased risk of atherosclerosis and heart attack.

The link between tooth loss and heart disease is important information because both conditions are common in the general population, Okoro said.

However, the results should be interpreted with caution, added James Beck, Distinguished Professor of Dental Ecology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"If you believe that the data are reasonable estimates of the cardiovascular and oral status of those interviewed, then you must understand, as the authors point out, that one cannot determine from this study whether people with poor oral status are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease. We only know that the two conditions are related to one another," Beck said in a prepared statement.

The findings appear in the current issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about heart disease risk factors.

SOURCE: Center for the Advancement of Health, news release, Dec. 20, 2005
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