June 21, 2019
2 min read

Better chewing yields behavioral cardiovascular health benefits

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Cardiovascular health can be negatively affected by the deterioration of functional chewing capacity in older adults, according to findings published in Clinical Nutrition.

“Continuous efforts must be made to promote ideal CV [health] in all segments of the population,” Hélène Rangé, DDS, PhD, associate professor in the department of periodontology at the University of Paris (Diderot) School of Dentistry in Paris, and colleagues wrote. “Due to population growth and aging, an important step is to identify modifiable factors that favor or limit the attainment of ideal CV [health].”

Rangé and colleagues assessed the chewing capacity and CV health of 5,011 adults (mean age, 59 years; 36.8% women) without CVD from the Paris Prospective Study 3. Participants underwent an oral examination in addition to a standard medical examination at the Centre d’Investigations Préventives et Cliniques between June 2008 and May 2012.

Behavioral CV health was defined via assessments of smoking behavior, BMI, physical activity level and diet. Biological CV health was defined via measurements of total cholesterol, glycemia and blood pressure. During the oral examination, functional tooth units were measured and used to assess chewing capacity, with a reading of at least 5 equating to “adequate” chewing capacity, according to the researchers.

Ideal CV health, which was reached by meeting requirements for five or more of the seven categories, occurred more frequently than poor CV health in those with a chewing capacity of 5 functional tooth units or more (OR = 2.37; 95% CI, 1.37-4.12). However, the researchers noted that chewing capacity was associated with overall CV health based on behavioral factors only. In addition, a higher percentage of participants with ideal CV health reached the threshold of 5 functional tooth units vs. those with poor cardiovascular health (96.89% vs. 91.84%; P < .01).

The odds a participant would have ideal smoking behavior, which meant not smoking in the previous year, were higher than having poor smoking behavior in those with 5 functional tooth units or more (OR = 1.78; 95% CI, 1.34-2.35). Similarly, those with 5 functional tooth units or more had improved odds for a BMI of less than 25 kg/m2 (OR = 2.28; 95% CI, 1.61-3.22) compared with higher BMI measures. When compared with the odds for an unhealthy diet, those with 5 functional tooth units or more had improved odds for an ideal diet (OR = 2.75; 95% CI, 1.19-6.37), defined as frequent consumption of fruits, vegetables and fish and less than 1,500 mg sodium per day, according to the researchers.

“Our finding of an association between chewing capacity and CV [health] raises several public health implications. Tooth loss and its main cause, ie, oral diseases, are highly prevalent worldwide, but largely preventable by promoting regular dental care networks and lower sugar containing food availability,” the researchers wrote. “Global strategies aimed at preventing tooth loss and replacing missing teeth by dental prosthesis are crucial to maintain chewing capacity and could contribute towards increasing the prevalence of ideal CV [health] in adulthood.” – by Phil Neuffer

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.