Losing two or more natural teeth in middle age may signal an increased risk for coronary heart disease, according to a US study. “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 Dr. Lu Qi of Tulane University in New Orleans. “That’s regardless of the number of natural teeth a person has as a middle-aged adult, or whether they have traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as poor diet or high blood pressure. Most previous studies only investigated pre-existing tooth loss; and little is known about whether incident (recent) tooth loss during middle adulthood is associated with future cardiovascular disease.”
The study team analyzed data on women and men from the long-term Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS). The participants were between 45 and 69 years old at the outset and did not have heart disease. They were asked about the number of natural teeth first in 1986 in the HPFS, and in 1992 in the NHS. On follow-up questionnaires, participants reported whether they had any recent tooth loss. Among adults with 25 to 32 natural teeth at the beginning of the study, those who lost two or more teeth during follow-up had a 23 percent increased risk of coronary heart disease compared with those who didn’t lose any teeth. This was true after adjusting for diet quality, physical activity, body weight, hypertension and other cardiovascular risk factors. Losing just one tooth during the study period wasn’t associated with a notable increased risk of heart disease.