The primary aim was to investigate the oral health; oral care habits and the ability of the participants to afford dental care in an adult Swedish population. A secondary aim was to study whether there is a relationship between dental care habits, self-reported oral health status and cardiovascular disease (CVD). The participants answered a questionnaire about the frequencies of diseases, the need for treatment and the effects of socio-economic factors on oral care habits. A questionnaire was mailed to 893 persons in 3 age groups (20–29, 50–59, and 75–84 years of age) of whom 723 replied (81.0%). The answers indicated that 16% had experienced dental problems without seeking help and more then 10% reported problems with chewing. In the group as a whole, 31.5% had sought no dental treatment, partly for financial reasons. When using a logistic regression model, as regards bleeding gums as a risk indicator of CVD, correcting for diabetes, education, gender, age and tobacco use, the estimated odds ratio (OR) was 1.70 (p = 0.05). The OR for those 50 years old or more was 1.79 (p = 0.05). For the oldest group alone, the OR was 2.69 (p = 0.05). The model showed an increased risk of CVD among those who had problems with their teeth without seeking help, OR 2.45 (p = 0.05). The study indicates that a large proportion of those answering the questionnaire had experienced dental problems without seeking help, partly for financial reasons. This group is more likely to have CVD and bleeding gums. It shows a relationship between the presence of bleeding gums and CVD, especially amongst the oldest participants.
Keywords: cardiovascular disease, epidemiology, oral health, periodontitis, questionnaire