Good Oral Hygiene Can Help Prevent Heart Disease

Fact. People who fail to brush their teeth twice a day have a higher chance of heart disease.

Good Oral Hygiene Can Help Prevent Heart DiseaseThe link between gum disease and heart problems is actually well known but experts have now been able to measure the effect of daily brushing. Recent studies have shown that people who never or rarely brush their teeth are 70% more likely to suffer heart disease as those who brush their teeth twice a day. However, the overall risk from poor oral hygiene remains quite low.

Experts from University College London analysed data for more than 11,000 people with an average age of 50 taking part in the Scottish Healthy Survey. They looked at people’s brushing habits as well as their lifestyles (smoking habits and exercise).

People were asked how often they visited their dentist (at least once every six months, every one to two years, or rarely/never) and how often they brushed their teeth (twice a day, once a day or less than once a day). Separate details were collected on people’s medical histories, blood pressure, and their family’s history of heart disease. Blood samples were also taken to measure markers of inflammation in the blood.

Just over six out of 10 (62%) people visited their dentist every six months while 71% said they brushed their teeth twice a day. During eight years of follow-up, there were 555 examples of serious heart problems, mostly caused by heart disease, including heart attacks. Of these, 170 were fatal. The experts found that people who never or rarely brushed their teeth were 70% more likely to suffer heart disease than those who brushed twice a day. This held true even when factors likely to influence the results – such as obesity and smoking – were taken into account.

Regular ExerciseJudy O’Sullivan, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “If you don’t brush your teeth, your mouth can become infected with bacteria which can cause inflammation. We already know that there is a link between inflammation and a higher risk of developing heart disease. However, it is complicated by the fact that poor oral hygiene is often associated with other well-known risk factors for heart disease, such as smoking and poor diet. Good personal hygiene is a basic element of a healthy lifestyle. If you want to help your heart, you should eat a balanced diet, avoid smoking and take part in regular physical activity.”

Another important aspect of maintaining good standards of oral hygiene is by making regular visits to your dentist for a check up. Dentists can spot and treat the first signs of decay and infection, can clean your teeth and gums and help to keep your mouth and heart healthy. For the sake of a few extra minutes brushing and flossing each day, you could help to minimise the risk of heart disease, one of the biggest killers in Ireland.

Useful Links:

Irish Heart Foundation: www.irishheart.ie
Give Up Smoking (HSE website): www.giveupsmoking.ie
Get Ireland Active: http://www.getirelandactive.ie/

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