(CNN)Your oral health could be a strong indicator of your overall health. Gum disease and tooth loss are connected to a higher risk of early death in women past the age of menopause, a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association finds.
For older women, having a history of periodontal disease, a serious gum infection, presents a 12% higher risk of premature death from any cause, while loss of natural teeth is associated with a 17% higher risk, the researchers say.
The new study only shows an association between oral health and premature death, cautions Michael J. LaMonte, lead author of the study and a research associate professor at the University at Buffalo in New York.
The research does not show gum disease or tooth loss cause early death.