Last updated on Jul 7th, 2020 at 02:06 pm

It’s not merely for the sake of having pearly whites – brushing your teeth protects your heart too

Did you know that brushing one’s teeth frequently is linked with lower risks of atrial fibrillation and heart failure?

The link between oral health, inflammation and your heart

Previous research has linked poor oral hygiene to bacteria in the blood that cause inflammation in the body.

Inflammation increases the risks of atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) and heart failure (the heart’s ability to pump blood or relax and refill with blood is impaired).

A new study, recently published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, examined the connection between oral hygiene and the occurrence of these two conditions.

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Over 160 000 people studied

The study included 161 286 participants from the Korean National Health Insurance System, aged 40 to 79, with no history of atrial fibrillation or heart failure.

Participants underwent a routine medical examination between 2003 and 2004. Information was collected on height, weight, laboratory tests, illnesses, lifestyle, oral health and oral hygiene behaviours.

During a median follow-up of 10.5 years, 4 911 (3.0%) participants developed atrial fibrillation and 7 971 (4.9%) developed heart failure.

Brushing three to four times a day

While we’ve learnt to brush twice a day, the study found that tooth brushing three or more times a day was associated with a 10% lower risk of atrial fibrillation and a 12% lower risk of heart failure during the 10.5-year follow up.

The findings were independent of a number of factors including age, sex, socioeconomic status, regular exercise, alcohol consumption, body mass index and co-morbidities such as hypertension.

Why does this work?

While the study did not investigate mechanisms, one possibility is that frequent tooth-brushing reduces bacteria in the subgingival biofilm (bacteria living in the pocket between the teeth and gums), thereby preventing translocation to the bloodstream.

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Source: European Society of Cardiology via

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.