Objective The aim of this study is to use data from the Glasgow Alumni Cohort to investigate whether oral health in young adulthood is independently associated with later life cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer mortality.
Methods and Results Of the original cohort (n=15,322), 12,631 individuals were traced through the National Health Service Central Register. Of these, 9569 men and 2654 women were 30 years or younger at baseline. During up to 57 years of follow-up, there were 1,432 deaths among individuals with complete data, including 509 deaths from CVD and 549 from cancer. After adjusting for potential confounders, no substantial association was found between the number of missing teeth (as a continuous variable) and all-cause mortality (hazard ratio [HR] per extra missing tooth = 1.01; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.00, 1.02), CVD mortality (HR 1.01; 95%CI: 0.99, 1.03) or cancer mortality (HR=1.00; 95%CI: 0.98, 1.02). When the number of missing teeth was treated as a categorical variable, there was evidence that students with nine or more missing teeth at baseline had an increased risk of CVD (HR=1.35; 95%CI: 1.03, 1.77) compared to those with fewer than five missing teeth. When the number of missing teeth was transformed using fractional polynomials, there seemed to be a non-linear relation between missing teeth and CVD mortality.
Conclusions Although we found some evidence to support the relation between tooth loss and CVD mortality, causal mechanisms underlying this association remain uncertain.
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