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J Am Dent Assoc. 2006 Oct;137 Suppl:14S-20S; quiz 38S.

Periodontal infections and cardiovascular disease: the heart of the matter.

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Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, 722 W. 168th St., Suite 1704, New York, NY 10032, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Am Dent Assoc. 2008 Mar;139(3):252.



Oral infection models have emerged as useful tools to study the hypothesis that infection is a cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factor. Periodontal infections are a leading culprit, with studies reporting associations between periodontal disease and CVD. The results, however, have varied, and it often is unclear what conclusions can be drawn from these data.


An association exists between periodontal disease and CVD. It is unknown, however, whether this relationship is causal or coincidental. Early studies predominantly used nonspecific clinical and radiographic definitions of periodontal disease as surrogates for infectious exposure. While most studies demonstrated positive associations between periodontal disease and CVD, not all studies were positive, and substantial variations in results were evident. More recent studies have enhanced the specificity of infectious exposure definitions by measuring systemic antibodies to selected periodontal pathogens or by directly measuring and quantifying oral microbiota from subgingival dental plaque. Results from these studies have shown positive associations between periodontal disease and CVD.


Evidence continues to support an association among periodontal infections, atherosclerosis and vascular disease. Ongoing observational and focused pilot intervention studies may inform the design of large-scale clinical intervention studies. Recommending periodontal treatment for the prevention of atherosclerotic CVD is not warranted based on scientific evidence. Periodontal treatment must be recommended on the basis of the value of its benefits for the oral health of patients, recognizing that patients are not healthy without good oral health. However, the emergence of periodontal infections as a potential risk factor for CVD is leading to a convergence in oral and medical care that can only benefit the patients and public health.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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