Purpose: A growing body of epidemiologic evidence links oral health, periodontal disease and cardiovascular health. While underlying pathophysiologic mechanisms are unclear, several studies have suggested a sub-acute inflammatory state, also implicated in the etiology of cardiovascular disease. The objective of the current study was to investigate associations between self-reported dental hygiene (brushing, flossing, preventive care and overall dental health), cardiovascular disease risk factors and systemic inflammation.
Methods: 128 adults from 5 different rural counties in West Virginia participated in a comprehensive, community-based health screening that included anthropometric assessments, collection of a blood specimen and completion of a questionnaire about dental hygiene practices and oral health.
Results: Univariate analysis demonstrated multiple statistically significant associations between self-reported dental hygiene and cardiovascular disease risk factors and markers of systemic inflammation. In regression analysis, after controlling for demographic and cardiovascular disease risk factor covariates, self-reported dental hygiene demonstrated statistically significant and independent associations with adiponectin, fibrinogen, C-reactive protein (CRP) and cellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1).
Conclusion: This study demonstrated associations between dental hygiene and systemic inflammation, independent from BMI and blood cholesterol. Future studies should investigate whether periodontal-related systemic inflammation begins before the onset of clinical disease. Results from this and other studies highlight the importance of dental hygiene in overall systemic health, and are beginning to collectively suggest that regular dental hygiene care is an integral part of comprehensive health care.