Brushing Your Teeth Helps Heart

There’s an open dirty secret that, around the holidays, people sometimes shun regular hygiene routines. We aren’t talking about showering. Frequently, at this time of year, sitting around in PJs all day. This is the season of the “messy hair; don’t care” attitude. Perhaps it comes from exhaustion from social events, or the time off work and school, but spending the day in night clothes becomes a common practice. While that may be okay on some occasions, there is one habit that really is a daily necessity: brushing your teeth well.

Research has shown time and time again that dental health may be linked to heart health. A new Korean study, looking at data from 161,286 healthy people for 10 and a half years, found that people who brushed their teeth three times a day were 10 percent less likely to develop heart fibrillation and 12 percent less likely to have heart failure. The researchers looked at physicality, medical issues and lifestyle to equalize their findings. Regularly going to the dentist was linked to being seven percent less likely to experience heart failure. Missing teeth was linked to being 32 percent more likely to have heart failure.

This may be because bacteria can go from the mouth to the bloodstream, causing heart problems, according to earlier studies. As with all research, this shows correlation versus causation — they appear to be linked, but it could be that people who don’t look after their teeth may have other similar patterns to each other. Brushing your teeth is not a sure-fire way to protecting your heart, but it’s certainly worth paying attention to dental health. Other studies found oral bacteria in blood clots of people who suffered a stroke. And, gum disease has been linked to hypertension.

The American Heart Association (AHA) does not recommend tooth health as a way of preventing heart disease. It is also important to note that less than five percent of people with gum disease in the study developed a heart problem. A study by the AHA that included fewer than 700 people did show that brushing for at least two minutes twice a day might lower heart disease. The AHA said that people who brushed less than that were three times more likely to have heart problems.

While the jury is out on having a definitive answer to the mouth’s connection to the heart, we believe that taking care of your teeth can be beneficial at the holidays, and all year round. Good dental health allows you to enjoy food and your time without tooth pain. Speak to your dentist about any concerns you have.

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