Posted on Dec 11, 2019, 6 p.m.
According to a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology brushing your teeth frequently is linked to a lower risk of atrial fibrillation and heart failure.
Poor oral hygiene leads to bacteria in the blood which causes inflammation in the body based on previous research; inflammation increases the risk of atrial fibrillation and heart failure and this study examined the connection between oral hygiene and occurrence of these conditions.
161,286 participants between the ages of 40-79 with no history of heart failure or atrial fibrillation who were part of the Korean National Health Insurance System were enrolled in this study; participants had a routine medical exam between 2003-2004 and information on weight, height, lifestyle, illnesses, lab tests, oral health, and oral hygiene behaviors was collected.
4,911 participants developed atrial fibrillation and 7,971 participants developed heart failure during a median follow up of 10.5 years. Brushing teeth 3+ times a day was associated with a 10% lower risk of atrial fibrillation and 12% lower risk of heart failure; findings were independent of a variety of factors including gender, age, socioeconomic status, BMI, alcohol consumption, physical activity level, and comorbidities such as hypertension.
It was noted that the study was limited by having all of the participants from one country, as well as being an observational study it can not prove causation, and although the mechanisms were not investigated it is possible that frequent tooth brushing helps to reduce bacteria in the subgingival biofilm to prevent translocation to the bloodstream.
"We studied a large group over a long period, which adds strength to our findings,” said senior author Dr. Tae-Jin Song of Ewha Womans University.
"It is certainly too early to recommend tooth brushing for the prevention of atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure, " they write in the accompanying editorial "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.”
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