Your oral health is connected to your mortality

Researchers report that looking at multiple dental health conditions and behaviors could provide a clearer picture of long-term health and mortality.

People who report poor oral health are just as likely to have negative long-term systemic health outcomes as people who have been previously diagnosed with periodontal or gum disease, according to the new study.

The study appears in Journal of the American Dental Association.

Researchers analyzed data sets from the Women's Health Study and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to examine whether self-reported oral health problems commonly used to monitor periodontal disease have the same or similar disease comorbidities.

The Women's Health Study, which began in 1992, followed women aged 45 or older and self-reported information about gum disease, oral health problems, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and osteoporosis over various time frames. NHANES includes data on oral health problems and related mortality since 1992.

Led by first author Yau-Hua Yu, associate professor of periodontics at Tufts University School of Dentistry, the researchers tested their hypotheses by performing analyzes that estimated the odds of an outcome based on multiple factors and then looked at differences survival rate under conditions. Results showed that negative self-evaluations were associated with the same degree of systemic comorbidity in people diagnosed with periodontal disease.

Studies have also found that suboptimal dental visits or infrequent flossing are associated with increased all-cause mortality.

“When clinical access is limited, these questions can really help understand a person's oral health status,” Yu said. He noted that in large epidemiological studies, such as the Women's Health Study, it is impossible to have a dentist on-site to participate in the study. The person undergoes a physical examination.

Yu and other researchers, including senior author Julie Buring of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, also studied the impact of access to dental care on overall health. They do this by asking two important questions: “In the past 12 months, have you seen a dentist or hygienist?” and “How often do you go to the dental office for routine checkups and cleanings?”

Researchers found that approximately 10% of Women's Health study participants and 45% of NHANES study participants did not visit a dentist within a year and, as a result, had poor oral and overall health outcomes.

“Our findings suggest that people who do not visit the dentist may have negative outcomes in terms of mortality,” Yu said, noting that their initial goal was to understand the usefulness of these questions for understanding and assessing gum disease and oral health. Average.

Given this clear link between oral health and mortality, Yu recommends that primary care physicians consider asking patients about their dental habits and condition to get a more complete picture of their overall health.

Yu didn't stop with the research. She said she is still working on large data sets and hopes to show results for different populations, such as veterans. She is currently working with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Furthermore, Yu emphasized the need for larger national health research/biobanking efforts that incorporate questions about dental health to better understand and communicate the association between oral health and long-term health outcomes, as well as disparities in access to dental care.

“As a society,” she said, “we need to look at, what's the burden of not having dental care?”

Source: Tufts University

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