Aug 22, 2012

Brush your teeth twice to avoid heart disease

As recommended by dentists, brushing your teeth twice a day can also reduce your risk of heart disease.

Over the last 20 years, there has been increased interest in links between heart problems and gum disease and it has been established that inflammation in the body, including mouth and gums, plays an important role in the build up of clogged arteries.

To investigate whether the number of times individuals brush their teeth has any bearing on the risk of developing heart disease, researchers analysed data from over 11,869 adults who took part in the Scottish Health Survey. The researchers analysed data about lifestyle behaviour such as smoking, physical activity and oral health routines. Individuals were asked how often they visited the dentist (at least once every six months, every one to two years, or rarely/never) and how often they brushed their teeth.  On a separate visit, nurses collected information on medical history and family history of heart disease, blood pressure and blood samples from consenting adults. The samples enabled the researchers to determine levels of inflammation that were present in the body. The data gathered from the interviews were linked to hospital admissions and deaths in Scotland until December 2007.

It was found that oral hygiene was generally good with 62 percent of participants saying they visited the dentist every six months and 71 percent reporting that they brushed their teeth twice a day. During the eight years of follow-up, 555 participants developed heart disease, which was fatal in 170 cases. In 74% (411 cases) of heart disease events, the principal diagnosis was coronary heart disease. Participants who reported poor oral hygiene (never/rarely brushed their teeth) were twice more likely to suffer a heart related event than others.

These findings show that poor oral hygiene is associated with higher risk of heart disease and low grade inflammation.