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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2005 Mar;53(3):430-7.

Dental caries, periodontal disease, and cardiac arrhythmias in community-dwelling older persons aged 80 and older: is there a link?

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Copenhagen Gerontological Oral Health Research Center, University of Copenhagen, School of Dentistry, Copenhagen, Denmark.



To examine whether caries or periodontitis is associated with cardiac arrhythmias in community-dwelling people aged 80 and older.


Urban, community-based population in Stockholm, Sweden.




Eligible persons were identified through the Kungsholmen Project, which is an ongoing, longitudinal, population-based study of the oldest old. The present study included 125 dentate individuals.


Data from interviews, a medical examination, and an oral examination. The assessment of cardiac arrhythmia was based on a clinical examination by a physician or the Stockholm Inpatient Register. Active root caries, active coronal caries, and periodontitis were assessed using previously defined National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research diagnostic criteria.


The primary finding of the multivariate logistic regression analysis was that persons with three or more active root caries lesions had more than twice the odds of cardiac arrhythmias than persons without active root caries. The results did not notably change after adjusting for age, medications that reduce saliva, and number of teeth. Persons with one to two active coronal caries lesions had 2.8 times higher odds (95% confidence interval=1.1-7.0) of arrhythmia than persons without active coronal caries, but there was no greater risk for persons with three or more coronal caries lesions. There was no association between periodontal disease and arrhythmia.


The findings indicate that there may be a link between active root caries and cardiac arrhythmias in the oldest old. Nevertheless, although a biological pathway is not obvious, it is plausible that both are simply markers of declining general health. The results suggest the need for further study of these relationships.

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