Brush your teeth thrice a day; reduce heart failure risk

Henrietta Strickland
December 5, 2019

Tooth brushing three or more times a day was associated with a 10 per cent lower risk of atrial fibrillation and a 12 per cent lower risk of heart failure during 10.5-year follow up. The American Dental Association prescribes brushing 2-3 times each day (particularly after dinners), supplanting toothbrushes at regular intervals, getting their teeth expertly cleaned, and flossing on an every day (or possibly week by week!) premise.

While the study did not investigate mechanisms, one theory behind the findings is that frequent tooth brushing reduces bacteria living in the pocket between the teeth and gums, preventing it from entering the bloodstream.

The researchers had over 161,000 participants involved in the study, none of whom had any issues regarding their heart health when the study began. The participants, all above age 40, were chosen from Korea's National Health Insurance System-Health Screening Cohort, a program that gathers medical information about individuals - including height, weight, medical conditions and lifestyle questionnaires - in order to study the causes and treatments of disease. None of these participants had heart failure or atrial fibrillation when they were enrolled in the study. Bacteria in the blood can trigger inflammation throughout the body, which in turn increases the risks of heart problems like irregular heart beat and heart attacks. Out of the total study population, three percent of participants developed atrial fibrillation and 4.9 percent developed heart failure in the decade after the original exam. The researchers speculate that frequently brushing one's teeth reduces the number of bacteria found between the gums and teeth, helping keep it out of the bloodstream.

The European Journal of Preventive Cardiology is the world's leading preventive cardiology journal, playing a pivotal role in reducing the global burden of cardiovascular disease.

The results held even when other potential heart health factors like exercise, alcohol consumption, or body mass index were taken into account. Inflammation can cause several problems, including atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) and heart failure (the heart's ability to pump blood or relax and fill with blood is impaired).

The discoveries don't mean poor oral cleanliness messes heart up, in any case.

The study was conducted in one country and was observational, so it does not prove a direct link between regular brushing and reduced heart risk, said senior author Dr. Tae-Jin Song, of the Department of Neurology at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.

Brushing your teeth isn't a surefire replacement for other known heart health strategies.

Brushing our teeth might not only save us from trips to the dentist but could also protect us from heart failure, according to research.

Also, don't cancel your dental cleanings.

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