Periodontal diseases and association with atherosclerotic disease

Periodontol 2000. 2020 Jun;83(1):66-89. doi: 10.1111/prd.12302.


Cardiovascular diseases still account for the majority of deaths worldwide, although significant improvements in survival, after being affected by cardiovascular disease, have been achieved in the last decades. Periodontal diseases are also a common global burden. Several studies have shown a link between cardiovascular disease and periodontitis, although evidence is still lacking regarding the direct cause-effect relation. During the 2012 "Periodontitis and systemic diseases" workshop, the available evidence on the association between cardiovascular and periodontal diseases was discussed, covering biologic plausibility and clinical studies. The objective of the present narrative review was to update the previous reviews presented at the 2012 workshop, following similar methodological approaches, aiming to critically assess the available evidence. With regard to biologic plausibility, two aspects were reviewed: (a) for microbiologic mechanisms, assessing periodontal bacteria as a contributing factor to atherosclerosis based on seven "proofs," substantial evidence was found for Proofs 1 through 6, but not for Proof 7 (periodontal bacteria obtained from human atheromas can cause atherosclerosis in animal models), concluding that periodontal pathogens can contribute to atherosclerosis; (b) mechanistic studies, addressing five different inflammatory pathways that could explain the links between periodontitis and cardiovascular disease with the addition of some extra pathways , suggest an association between both entities, based on the presence of higher levels of these inflammatory markers in patients with periodontitis and cardiovascular disease, vs healthy controls, as well as on the evidence that periodontal treatment reduces serum levels of these mediators. When evidence from clinical studies was analyzed, two aspects were covered: (a) epidemiologic studies support the estimation that the incidence of atherosclerotic disease is higher in individuals with periodontitis than in individuals with no reported periodontitis, irrespective of many common risk factors, but with a substantial variability in the definitions used in reporting of exposure to periodontal diseases in different studies; (b) intervention trials have shown that periodontal therapy can reduce serum inflammatory mediators, improve the lipids profile, and induce positive changes in other cardiovascular disease surrogate measures, but no evidence is available to support that adequate periodontal therapy is able to reduce the risk for cardiovascular diseases, or the incidence of cardiovascular disease events in periodontitis patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atherosclerosis*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases*
  • Humans
  • Periodontal Diseases*
  • Periodontitis*
  • Risk Factors