Brushing teeth might prevent heart disease

Brushing teeth twice a day could help prevent heart disease, according to Scottish research

The study of more then 11,000 adults supports previous research linking gum disease with heart problems.

However, the researchers said more work is needed to confirm if poor oral health directly causes heart disease or is a marker of risk.

It is known that inflammation in the body, including in the mouth and gums, has an important role in the build up of the clogged arteries, which can lead to a heart attack.

Although this is the first time that researchers have looked at whether brushing teeth, or lack thereof,  has any bearing on the risk of developing heart disease.

The study looked at lifestyle behaviours, such as smoking, physical activity and oral health routines and participants were asked how often they visited the dentist and brushed their teeth.

Their medical history and family history of heart disease was also looked at.

Six out of 10 people said they visited the dentist every six months and seven out of 10 reported brushing their teeth twice a day.

The researchers found that those with the worst oral hygiene had a 70% increased chance of developing the condition compared with those who brush their teeth twice a day.

Those with poor oral hygiene also tested positive in blood samples for proteins, which are suggestive of inflammation.

Study leader Professor Richard Watt from University College London, said future studies will be needed to confirm whether the link between oral health behaviour and cardiovascular disease “is in fact merely a risk marker.”

Jody O’Sullivan, senior cardiac nurse at British Heart Foundation, said: “If you don’t brush your teeth, your mouth can become infected with bacteria which can cause inflammation.

“However, it is complicated by the fact that poor oral hygiene if often associated with other well known risk factors for heart disease, such as smoking and poor diet.”

She added: “Good personal hygiene is a basic element of a healthy lifestyle.

“But if you want to help your heart, you should eat a balanced diet, avoid smoking and take part in regular physical activity.”

Professor Damien Walmsley, scientific adviser to the British Dental Association, added it was still unclear whether there was a definite cause and effect between brushing teeth and heart disease.

“Whatever the true position is, we can say with certainty that if people brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, visit the dentist regularly and restrict sugary snacks to mealtimes; that this will go a long way towards keeping the teeth and gums in a healthy state for life.’

By Deepika Dudakia


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