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UB research links gum disease and increased death risk in older women

Gum disease and tooth loss may be associated with a higher risk of death in postmenopausal women but not increased heart disease risk, according to a University at Buffalo study.

Loss of all natural teeth also was linked with an increased risk of death in postmenopausal women, the researchers found.

Periodontal disease, a chronic inflammatory disease of the gum and connective tissue surrounding the teeth, affects nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults 60 and older. The loss of all one’s teeth, called edentulism, impacts about one-third of U.S. adults 60 and older and often results from periodontal disease.

“Beside their negative impact on oral function and dietary habits, these conditions are also thought to be related to chronic diseases of aging,” Michael J. LaMonte, study author and research associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health, said in a statement.

Researchers analyzed health information from the Women’s Health Initiative, a national initiative that examined health issues in 57,001 women, 55 years and older.

A history of periodontal disease was associated with a 12 percent higher risk of death from any cause, according to the study in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Loss of all natural teeth was associated with a 17 percent higher risk of death from any cause. Also, the risk of death associated with periodontal disease was comparable regardless of how often women saw their dentists.

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