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Brushing Teeth May Keep Away Heart Disease

Study Shows People Who Brush Teeth Less Frequently Are at Higher Risk for Heart Disease
By
WebMD Health News

brushing_teeth_heart_disease_1.jpg

May 27, 2010 -- Brushing your teeth is not only good for your pearly whites, it also decreases your chances of suffering a heart attack, a new study indicates.

Researchers in England analyzed data from more than 11,000 people taking part in a study called the Scottish Health Survey. They examined lifestyle habits such as smoking, overall physical activity, and oral health routines.

Patients were asked whether they visited a dentist at least once every six months, every one to two years, rarely, or never. They were also asked how often they brushed their teeth -- twice daily, once a day, or less than every day.

The researchers found that:

  • 62% of participants said they went to a dentist every six months.
  • 71% said they brushed their teeth twice a day.

After adjusting the data for cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity, smoking, social class, and family heart disease history, the researchers found that people who admitted to brushing their teeth less frequently had a 70% extra risk of heart disease.

People who reported poor oral hygiene also tested positive for bloodstream inflammatory markers such as fibrinogen and C-reactive protein.

"Our results confirmed and further strengthened the suggested association between oral hygiene and the risk of cardiovascular disease," Richard Watt, DDS, of University College London, says in a news release. "Furthermore, inflammatory markers were significantly associated with a very simple measure of poor oral health behavior."

He says more studies are needed to confirm the findings and to determine whether oral health and cardiovascular disease are causal or simply risk markers.

The findings of the study were not necessarily shocking, the researchers say, because scientists have increasingly wondered about a possible connection between dental disease and cardiovascular health.

"Inflammation plays an important role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, and markers of low grade inflammation have been consistently associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease," they write.

Poor oral hygiene is the major cause of periodontal disease, a chronic infection of the tissues surrounding the teeth. Thus, gum infections seem to add to the inflammatory burden on individuals, increasing cardiovascular risk, the researchers say.

Oral infections are common, so doctors should be alert to infections in the mouth as signs of increased inflammation, and tell patients to brush their teeth and maintain good oral hygiene, the researchers conclude.

The study is published in the journal BMJ.

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Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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