Study links childhood dental infections to increase heart disease risk
A study has linked childhood dental infections to an increased risk of heart disease in later life.
Research conducted as part of The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study revealed that children that suffer from oral conditions, such as gum disease and decay, are more likely to develop risk factors for strokes and heart attacks during adulthood.
The research team, which is overseeing the ongoing study, first carried out dental examinations on the participants in 1980 when the children were, on average, 8 years old. The group of 755 children has been monitored over a prolonged period of time. In 2007, the participants underwent health checks and researchers checked for risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and atherosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries.
The initial review showed that just 4.5 of the children had no signs of dental cavities, fillings, bleeding or pockets. Almost 6% had one sign of infection, 17% had two signs, 39% had 3 signs and 34% had all four signs listed.
Researchers found that children who had even one sign of dental infection were much more likely (87%) to develop primary signs of atherosclerosis, which occurs when deposits collect inside the artery walls, reducing blood flow. Children who had all four signs of dental infection were found to have a 95% higher risk of developing this specific risk factor.
Lead author of the study, Pirkko Pussinen, from the University of Helsinki, suggested that the study findings underline the importance of good oral hygiene and regular dental checks from an early age.