Brush teeth twice to avoid heart disease Poor Oral Hygiene Ups Cardiac Illness Risk By 70%
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29 May 2010
People who don’t brush their teeth twice a day have an increased risk of heart disease, scientists said on Friday, adding scientific weight to 19th century theories about oral health and chronic disease.
British researchers studied nearly 12,000 adults in Scotland and found those with poor oral hygiene had a 70% extra risk of heart disease compared with those who brushed twice a day and who were less likely to have unhealthy gums.
People with gum disease are more likely to develop heart disease and diabetes because inflammation in the body, including in the mouth and gums, plays a role in the build–up of clogged arteries, said Richard Watt from University College London, who led the study. The 70% extra risk compares to a 135% extra risk of heart disease in those who smoke, he said.
Although the overall risk was low – with a total of 555 heart attacks or other serious coronary problems among 11,869 people – the effect of regular teeth brushing was significant.
"Compared to things like smoking and poor diet, which are obviously the main risk factors for heart disease, we are not claiming this is in the same league, " Watt said.
"But ... even after controlling for all those things there is a still a relationship between this very simple measure of tooth brushing and heart condition, " he said.
"In a way, it’s really quite an old story, because back in the early 19th century there was a theory called focal sepsis, and people believed that infections in the mouth caused disease in the whole body, " Watt said. "As a result, they used to take everyone’s teeth out. " Watt said such a response was "a bit dramatic ", but his findings did suggest that twice–a–day brushing was a good idea. REUTERS