Frequently brushing teeth lowers the risk of atrial fibrillation and heart failure, new research finds.
Poor oral hygiene leads to bacterial growth and the bacteria can find their way into the body through the blood circulation, which causes inflammation.
Inflammation increases the risk of a heart condition called atrial fibrillation which is an abnormal heart rhythm.
The condition can lead to heart failure since the heart can’t pump blood, relax, and fill with blood efficiently any longer.
Korean researchers enrolled 161,286 participants in order to test if there is any connection between oral hygiene and the incidence of atrial fibrillation and heart failure.
They found that brushing the teeth three or more times per day reduced the risk of atrial fibrillation by 10 percent and lowers the risk of heart failure by 12 percent.
While the mechanism is not clear, it is possible that brushing the teeth frequently diminishes bacteria in the subgingival biofilm and so prevents them moving into the bloodstream.
Subgingival biofilms are communities of bacteria that live in the spaces between the teeth and gums or are attached to the tooth’s surface.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
They advise brushing teeth for two minutes last thing at night before going to bed and at one other time during the day.
Dr. Tae-Jin Song , the study’s senior author, said:
“We studied a large group over a long period, which adds strength to our findings.
It is certainly too early to recommend tooth brushing for the prevention of atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure.
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.”
About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
The study was published in the journal of European Journal of Preventive Cardiology (Chang et al., 2019).