BACKGROUND: Helicobacter pylori is considered to be a pathogen responsible for gastritis and peptic ulcers, and a risk factor for gastric cancer. A periodontal pocket in the teeth of individuals with chronic periodontitis may function as a reservoir for H pylori.OBJECTIVE: The present study was undertaken to evaluate whether the presence of H pylori in the dental plaque of patients with and without periodontitis correlates with gastric involvement.METHODS: A total of 101 patients with dyspepsia were included in the present study. Subjects were divided into periodontitis and non-periodontitis groups. For the detection of H pylori in dental plaque, samples were collected from two teeth using a periodontal curette. Subgingival plaque was obtained by inserting two sterile paper points into periodontal pockets for 20 s. This was followed by an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy and antral biopsies.RESULTS: Sixty-five per cent of patients had dental plaque positive for H pylori and more than 50% harboured the bacteria in their stomach. Periodontitis patients had a significantly higher percentage of H pylori in their dental plaque (79% versus 43%; P<0.05) and the stomach (60% versus 33%; P<0.05) than patients with no periodontitis. Additionally, 78% of patients from the periodontitis group versus only 30% from the nonperiodontitis group had a positive test result for the coexistence of H pylori in both dental plaque and the stomach.CONCLUSION: Patients with poor oral hygiene have a higher prevalence of H pylori in dental plaque and in the stomach. This finding suggests that the oral cavity may be a reservoir for H pylori, and potentially a source of transmission or reinfection.