Endodontic medicine: connections between apical periodontitis and systemic diseases

Int Endod J. 2015 Oct;48(10):933-51. doi: 10.1111/iej.12507. Epub 2015 Aug 3.


The prevalence of apical periodontitis (AP) in Europe has been reported to affect 61% of individuals and 14% of teeth, and increase with age. Likewise, the prevalence of root canal treatment (RCT) in Europe is estimated to be around 30-50% of individuals and 2-9% of teeth with radiographic evidence of chronic persistent AP in 30-65% of root filled teeth (RFT). AP is not only a local phenomenon and for some time the medical and dental scientific community have analysed the possible connection between apical periodontits and systemic health. Endodontic medicine has developed, with increasing numbers of reports describing the association between periapical inflammation and systemic diseases. The results of studies carried out both in animal models and humans are not conclusive, but suggest an association between endodontic variables, that is AP and RCT, and diabetes mellitus (DM), tobacco smoking, coronary heart disease and other systemic diseases. Several studies have reported a higher prevalence of periapical lesions, delayed periapical repair, greater size of osteolityc lesions, greater likelihood of asymptomatic infections and poorer prognosis for RFT in diabetic patients. On the other hand, recent studies have found that a poorer periapical status correlates with higher HbA1c levels and poor glycaemic control in type 2 diabetic patients. However, there is no scientific evidence supporting a causal effect of periapical inflammation on diabetes metabolic control. The possible association between smoking habits and endodontic infection has also been investigated, with controversial results. The aim of this paper was to review the literature on the association between endodontic variables and systemic health (especially DM and smoking habits).

Keywords: diabetes mellitus; immune response; oral health; periapical inflammation; persistent apical periodontitis; root canal treatment; tobacco smoking.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Complications / complications*
  • Diabetes Complications / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Oral Health
  • Periapical Periodontitis / complications*
  • Periapical Periodontitis / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Root Canal Therapy*