Brush your teeth three times a day to keep heart failure risks away – study

Brushing your teeth might not only save you from trips to the dentist but could also protect you from heart failure risks, according to a new research.

The study involved 161,286 people in South Korea who had no history of heart problems. The participants had a routine medical examination—including a tooth check—and were asked questions about their oral hygiene. After about 10 years, the team followed up with the participants to see if they had developed heart problems.

It was discovered that brushing one’s teeth at least three times a day was linked with a 12 percent lower risk of heart failure, and 10 percent lower chance of developing atrial fibrillation, which can cause the organ to beat irregularly and abnormally fast. These findings remained even when the scientists factored in variables like how much the participants exercised and drank, and other problems which affect heart health like high blood pressure. The findings were published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

The team aren’t sure what lies behind the association, but they think the habit could decrease the numbers of bacteria living in the gaps between the teeth and gums, preventing them from getting into the bloodstream.

“Atrial fibrillation and heart failure are major cardiovascular problems. However, to date, little is known about the risk factors or association factors of atrial fibrillation and heart failure and the factors that can prevent them.” Senior author Dr. Tae-Jin Song of Ewha Womans University, Seoul Korea, told Newsweek on Tuesday.

“Efforts to improve oral hygiene, including tooth brushing, will reduce the risk of atrial fibrillation and heart failure. Therefore, the importance of taking good care of oral health can be reaffirmed through the results of this study,” Song added.

However, Song acknowledged the study was limited since it was based on one population.

In an editorial published in the European Journal of Preventive, experts who didn’t work on the paper commended the researchers for using a big sample size, and following up with participants after a relatively long period of time.

However, Pascal Meyre of Switzerland’s Cardiovascular Research Institute Basel at University Hospital Basel, and David Conen of Canada’s Population Health Research Institute, McMaster University, also wrote the study doesn’t prove that brushing teeth prevents heart disease.

“It is certainly too early to recommend tooth brushing for the prevention of AF [atrial fibrillation] and CHF [heart failure],” Meyre and Conen said. “While the role of inflammation in the occurrence of cardiovascular disease is becoming more and more evident, intervention studies are needed to define strategies of public health importance.”

Earlier this year, a separate team of scientists reach a finding that our outlook on life could also protect our hearts.

The study – which was published in the journal JAMA Network – suggested a positive attitude could prevent heart disease, and lower the risk of dying prematurely.

Source: Newsweek