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Oral Hygiene Helps Not Only Diabetes but Cardiovascular Disease

There are common genetic factors that slightly predispose individuals to develop both periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease, a prospective study of Swedish twins indicates.

“Because of its high prevalence, poor oral health could be a substantial source of morbidity and mortality if there were truly a causal relation between poor oral health and cardiovascular disease,” the authors wrote in a current journal.

Dr. Lorelei A. Mucci notes that, “Beyond the shared common genetic pathways, poor oral health appears to be a risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease in the future.”

“This finding,” she said, “is in line with several other studies, and indicates that good oral hygiene practices may prevent not only oral diseases but also cardiovascular diseases.”

To examine what genetic factors may underlie tooth loss, periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease, Dr. Mucci, from the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, and colleagues studied a population of 15,273 twins from the Swedish Twin Registry.

Both tooth loss and periodontal disease were associated with a small excess risk of cardiovascular disease (hazard ratios, 1.2 and 1.3, respectively). Periodontal disease was also associated with a greater excess risk of coronary heart disease (HR, 1.4). Adjusting for genetic factors did not appreciably alter these estimates, the study team notes.

Moreover, in co-twin analyses controlling for genetic and shared environmental factors, tooth loss was associated with a more than 2-fold greater risk of coronary heart disease (HR, 2.1), compared with adjusting for individual factors alone (HR, 1.3).

In this study, “There was evidence of shared genetic factors between cardiovascular disease and tooth loss and periodontal disease,” they note. However, “Oral disease was associated with excess cardiovascular disease risk, independent of genetic factors.”

Am J Epidemiol Sept 1, 2009;170:615-621.