Is There a Causal Link Between Periodontitis and Cardiovascular Disease? A Concise Review of Recent Findings

Int Dent J. 2022 Feb;72(1):37-51. doi: 10.1016/j.identj.2021.07.006. Epub 2021 Sep 24.


There is substantial evidence in support of an association between periodontitis and cardiovascular disease. The most important open question related to this association is causality. This article revisits the question of causality by reviewing intervention studies and systematic reviews and meta analyses published in the last 3 years. Where are we now in answering this question? Whilst systematic reviews and epidemiological studies continue to support an association between the diseases, intervention studies fall short in determining causality. There is a dearth of good-quality, blinded randomised control trials with cardiovascular disease outcomes. Most studies use surrogate markers/biomarkers for endpoints, and this is problematic as they may not be reflective of cardiovascular disease status. This review further highlights another issue with surrogate markers/biomarkers: the potential for collider bias. Ethical considerations surrounding nontreatment have led to calls for a well-annotated database containing in-depth dental health data. Finally, a relatively new and important risk factor for cardiovascular disease, clonal haematopoiesis of indeterminate potential, is discussed. Clonal haematopoiesis of indeterminate potential increases cardiovascular risk by more than 40%, and inflammation is a contributing factor. The impact of periodontal disease on this emerging risk factor has yet to be explored. Although the question of causality in the association between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease remains unanswered, the importance of good oral health in maintaining good heart health is reiterated.

Keywords: Cardiovascular disease; Clonal haematopoiesis; Collider bias; Periodontitis; Plaque.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / etiology
  • Humans
  • Periodontal Diseases*
  • Periodontitis* / complications
  • Periodontitis* / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors