Background: Periodontal disease has been associated with cardiovascular disorders with an atherosclerotic background, and number of teeth (NT) has been suggested as a possible risk indicator for cardiovascular disease. The objective of this study is to investigate whether NT was related to the intima-media thickness (IMT) and to atherosclerotic plaque in carotid arteries in an elderly population.
Methods: In a population-based study including 1,016 participants aged 70 years, the NT was self-reported by 947 of the participants. Carotid artery IMT was evaluated by ultrasound. The occurrence of plaque was also measured. Logistic regression was used to analyze the associations between NT and the number of carotid arteries with plaque.
Results: A significant inverse relationship was found between the NT and the number of carotid arteries with plaque after adjustment for age, sex, smoking, body mass index, waist/hip ratio, blood glucose, triglycerides, cholesterol, C-reactive protein, leukocyte count, blood pressure, and Framingham risk score, with odds ratio of 0.89, 95% confidence interval of 0.82 to 0.98, and P = 0.016. The relationship was fairly linear, suggesting a dose-response relationship. When NT was divided into quintiles using the first one as referent, the relationship persisted for all quintiles except for the second one. However, no relationship to IMT was seen.
Conclusion: The present study further emphasizes that tooth loss could be an easily obtained risk indicator for atherosclerosis.