Background and objective: Growing experimental evidence implicates chronic inflammation/infection due to periodontal diseases as a risk factor for death. The objective was to evaluate the role of periodontitis in premature death in a prospective study.
Methods: The causes of death in 3273 randomly-selected subjects, aged 30-40 years, from 1985 to 2001 were registered. At baseline, 1676 individuals underwent a clinical oral examination (Group A) and 1597 did not (Group B). Mortality and causes of death from 1985 to 2001 were recorded according to ICD-9-10.
Results: In Groups A (clinically examined group) and B, a total of 110 subjects had died: 40 subjects in Group A, and 70 in Group B. In Group A significant differences were present at baseline between survivors and persons who later died, with respect to dental plaque, calculus, gingival inflammation and number of missing molars in subjects with periodontitis (p < 0.001). The multiple logistic regression analysis results of the relationship between being dead (dependent variable) and several independent variables identified periodontitis with any missing molars as a principal independent predictor of death.
Conclusions: Young individuals with periodontitis and missing molars seem to be at increased risk for premature death by life-threatening diseases, such as neoplasms, and diseases of the circulatory and digestive systems.