Background: Recent meta-analyses reported a weak association between periodontal disease (PD) on clinical examination and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Systemic bacterial exposure from periodontitis, which correlates poorly with the clinical examination, has been proposed as the more biologically pertinent risk factor. The purpose of this study was to review and analyze the association between PD with elevated systemic bacterial exposure and CVD.
Methods: We searched in the PubMed, Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, EMBASE, and SCOPUS databases for all literature examining PD and CVD. From 10 selected publications, we extracted 12 cohort (N = 5) and cross-sectional (N = 7) studies and included 11 of these in a meta-analysis. With stratified analyses, this resulted in 14 analyses of coronary heart disease (CHD; N = 7), stroke (N = 4), and carotid intima-medial thickening (CIMT; N = 3) as a measure of early atherosclerosis. Systemic bacterial exposure was measured by periodontal bacterial burden (N = 1), periodontitis-specific serology (N = 12), or C-reactive protein (N = 1).
Results: Periodontal disease with elevated markers of systemic bacterial exposure was associated strongly with CHD compared to subjects without PD, with a summary odds ratio of 1.75 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.32 to 2.34; P <0.001). This group was not associated with CVD events or with stroke but was associated with a significant increase in mean CIMT (0.03 mm; 95% CI: 0.02 to 0.04).
Conclusion: Periodontal disease with elevated bacterial exposure is associated with CHD events and early atherogenesis (CIMT), suggesting that the level of systemic bacterial exposure from periodontitis is the biologically pertinent exposure with regard to atherosclerotic risk.