Background: Panoramic radiographs (PMX)s may provide information about systemic health conditions.
Aims: i). To study clinical periodontal conditions and collect self-reported health status in a cohort of 1084 older subjects; ii). to study signs of alveolar bone loss and carotid calcification from panoramic radiographs obtained from these subjects; and iii). to study associations between study parameters.
Material and methods: PMXs from 1064 adults aged 60-75 (mean age 67.6, SD +/- 4.7) were studied. Signs of alveolar bone loss, vertical defects, and molar furcation radiolucencies defined periodontal status. Medical health histories were obtained via self-reports. Signs of carotid calcification were identified from panoramic radiographs.
Results: The PMX allowed assessment of 53% of the films (Seattle 64.5% and Vancouver 48.4%). A self-reported history of a stroke was reported by 8.1% of men in Seattle and 2.9% of men in Vancouver (P < 0.01). Heart attacks were reported by 12% of men in Seattle and 7.2% in Vancouver (N.S.). PMX evidence of periodontitis was found in 48.5% of the subjects, with carotid calcification in 18.6%. The intraclass correlation score for PMX findings of carotid calcification and stroke was 0.24 (95% CI: 0.10-0.35, P < 0.001). The odds ratio for PMX carotid calcification and periodontitis was 2.1 (95% CI: 1.3-3.2, P < 0.001), and for PMX carotid calcification and stroke 4.2 (95% CI: 1.9-9.1, P < 0.001). The associations disappeared when smoking was accounted for. A history of a heart attack was associated with stroke, gender, age, and PMX scores of alveolar bone loss.
Conclusions: PMXs may provide valuable information about both oral conditions and signs of carotid calcification, data that are consistent with self-reported health conditions. Alveolar bone loss as assessed from PMXs is associated with cardiovascular diseases.