The Bleeding Obvious

By Dr Richard Johnston

Continuing on from my previous article, which introduced the links between poor oral health and numerous medical conditions, in this article, I am going to delve deeper into the links between periodontal disease and Cardiovascular Disease.

During the past 20 years, evidence from population based studies, increasingly points to a robust connection between oral health status and serious major chronic diseases.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD), affecting the heart and blood vessels, is a very common and serious disease in Australia with about 3.5 million people reporting having the condition in 2017-2018. Despite significant advances in the treatment of CVD, it remains the cause of more deaths than any other disease- about 50,000 in 2018- and one of the most expensive, costing about $5.9 billion annually.

Studies reported about a decade ago demonstrated that both periodontal disease and total loss of teeth were associated with greater risk for cardiovascular disease. In 2016, a study investigated whether the severity of periodontal diseases and number of remaining teeth related to a past history of heart attack and high blood pressure or hypertension (HT)9. Self reported history of HT and heart attack was collected in 3,352 patients referred for periodontal diseases to a Swedish county hospital, and in 902 people randomly selected from the general population. The severity of periodontal disease was related to HT independent of age and to the prevalence of heart attack in middle-aged subjects only. On the other hand, the number of teeth was associated with the prevalence of heart attack independent of age. This study showed that both periodontal disease and overall tooth loss from any cause are closely related to cardiovascular disease.

More recent evidence from an even larger study has found the alarming result that a person with fewer than 10 of their own teeth remaining is seven times more likely to die of coronary disease than someone with more than 25 of their own teeth.

For generations, many aspects of health have been departmentalised and this is certainly true of dentistry. But common sense tells us that everything in our body is linked and now the evidence is available to back this up. Your oral health is a direct window to your overall health and staying in great oral health has many benefits.

Regular visits to your dentist should be about far more than just that ‘clean teeth’ feeling we like, it should be about preventing dental disease or detecting it early to avoid overall health issues.

To book an appointment with Dr Johnston simply call Beerwah Dental 07 5494 0766 or visit to book online.