The Link Between Coronary Disease and Untreated Root Canal Infections

A research study carried out at the University of Helsinki, Finland discovered an infection of the root tip of a tooth increases the risk of coronary artery disease, even if the infection is symptomless. Hidden dental root tip infections or rather root canal infections are very common: as many as one in four Finns suffers from at least one. Such infections are usually detected by chance from X-rays.  The fact that these infections are common without pain is concerning.

From the research:

"Acute coronary syndrome is 2.7 times more common among patients with untreated teeth in need of root canal treatment than among patients without this issue," says researcher John Liljestrand.


The study was carried out at the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Diseases of the University of Helsinki, in cooperation with the Heart and Lung Centre at Helsinki University Hospital. Its results were published in the latest issue of the Journal of Dental Research

Statistics show cardiovascular diseases cause more than 30 per cent of deaths around the world.  It is believed that this type of disease can be prevented by a healthy diet, weight control, exercise and not smoking. 


Additionally, the health of the heart may need more routine imaging of the roots to prevent and treat existing oral infections, since they are very common and often asymptomatic.  Pain is not required to have an infected tooth. The specialists that treat the infections discussed here are Endodontists.


Endodontists have a minimum of two years extra training treating root tip infections and most do not require a referral to be seen.


Without an X-ray, warning signs of a root tip infection may present as:


1.  Swelling of the gums.


2.  A small bump or pimple on the gums that persists.


3.  A tooth that is sore or tender to bite.


4.  A severe toothache that suddenly goes away.  Especially a tooth that was cold or heat sensitive and goes away on its own.


5.  Fever


6.  Swollen glands


7.  Malaise


In summary,  a simple X-ray may save your heart or reduce the risk of heart disease, but more research is needed.


Below is an advanced 3D image Dr. Schow took of a patient showing how a root tip infection destroys bone.  The other image shows the surgical removal of a root tip infection provided by Dr. J K Schow.