Women's health * Men's health * 50+ health * Healthy living

Brushing teeth twice a day cuts heart risk

Brushing teeth twice a day cuts heart risk Helps your social life too

Do you ever skip brushing your teeth at bedtime, because it's late, you're tired, and you'll brush them in the morning anyway?

Well, aside from allowing germs to fester in your mouth overnight, you could also be putting your heart at risk. A new study has found that failing to brush your teeth twice a day increases your risk of developing heart disease.

The study, led by Professor Richard Watt from University College London, looked at data collected from over 11,000 adults who took part in the Scottish Health Survey.

The researchers looked at how much these individuals smoked, how much physical activity they did, how often they brushed their teeth, and how often they visited the dentist.

Separately, the looked at the individuals medical history and family history of heart disease, blood pressure and also took blood samples, which were used to determine levels of inflammation in the body. This data was then linked to hospital admissions and deaths.

Once the data was adjusted for risk factors such as social class, obesity, smoking and family history of heart disease, researchers found that those who brushed their teeth less than twice a day had a 70% extra risk of heart disease compared to individuals who brushed their teeth twice a day.

Participants who brushed infrequently also tested positive for inflammatory markers. However, the overall risk of heart disease remained low.

Professor Watt said: "Our results confirmed and further strengthened the suggested association between oral hygiene and the risk of cardiovascular disease - furthermore inflammatory markers were significantly associated with a very simple measure of poor oral health behaviour".

Over the past two decades it has been established that inflammation in the mouth and gums can play a role in the build up of clogged arteries. However, this is the first study to investigate whether the number of times individuals brush their teeth has any bearing on the risk of developing heart disease.

The research was published today on BMJ.com.

This article was published on Fri 28 May 2010

Image © Ana Blazic - Fotolia.com

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