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New research shows tooth decay leads to hardening of arteries

Posted: August 8, 2013 |   Comments

( Researchers from Austria's Innsbruck Medical University have linked tooth decay to atherosclerosis, the hardening of the arteries, a major factor of many heart cardiovascular conditions.

The study involved analyzing 292 patients made up of 137 women and 155 men averaging at 54 years old.

The researchers counted the number of cavities and decaying tooth surfaces among the patients. They also measured their progression of gingivitis and periodontal (gum) disease in addition to measuring the amount of jaw bone loss. Jaw bone loss is linked to periodontal disease as the bacteria that infects the gums also destroy bone material including the roots of teeth and bone material.

Using a calculation method called logistical regression, it was determined that those patients with less than one tooth cavity had significantly less incidence of atherosclerosis compared to those patients with multiple dental caries.

The data also shows that subjects with greater levels of periodontitis generally also have a greater incidence of atherosclerosis.

Furthermore, the factors were found to be amplified with increased age.

The researchers concluded: "Dental caries, pulpal caries, and chronic apical periodontitis are associated positively, while restorations are associated inversely, with aortic atherosclerotic burden."

Bacterial infections, including tooth caries and periodontitis, cause toxic waste to be leaked into the bloodstream. This waste damages the walls of blood vessels, forming plaque and leading to atherosclerosis. The plaque that builds up can then break off, causing a lethal heart attack or stroke.

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