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J Am Dent Assoc. 2002 Jun;133 Suppl:31S-36S.

Does chronic periodontitis cause coronary heart disease? A review of the literature.

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  • 1Department of Dental Public Health Sciences, School of Dentistry, Department of Epidemiology, Box 357475, University of Washington, Seattle, Wash. 98195, USA.



Chronic periodontitis, or CP, has been associated with coronary heart disease, or CHD. This article reviews the available prospective CP-CHD evidence.


In nine cohort studies, CP was associated with a 15 percent greater risk of developing CHD. Conclusions from individual studies depended on study characteristics. Summary risk estimates for studies controlling for smoking intensity (five of nine studies) or health awareness (two of nine studies) or studies with more than 600 CHD events (three of nine studies) suggest that CP is either not at all or weakly associated with CHD. Summary risk estimates for the studies that did not control for these factors or that examined an insufficient number of CHD events reported a weak increase in CHD risk associated with CP (20 percent greater). These data suggest that the CP-CHD associations observed in smaller studies are due to insufficient control for lifestyle differences. In addition, one cohort study reported that edentulous people had a CHD risk similar to that of people with CP. Therefore, the plausibility of dental infection elimination affecting CHD risk appears limited.


Current evidence supporting a causal CP-CHD link is weak. Rigorous methodological and analytical control of lifestyle factors such as smoking will be required to elucidate whether the CP-CHD disease association is either small or nonexistent.


Cigarette smoking destroys both oral and systemic health. Because of this strong common causal factor, oral and systemic health are linked. Dentistry should continue to play an important role in implementing smoking prevention and cessation programs.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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