We’re celebrating Heart Research Month this February. Why, you ask? Because the links between oral and heart health have long been documented, most recently in a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
Korean researchers have found poor oral hygiene can provoke transient bacteremia and systemic inflammation, a mediator of atrial fibrillation and heart failure.
One common theory argues that frequent teeth brushing prevents a biofilm of bacteria from building up in our gums, which then lessens the chance these bacteria could migrate to the bloodstream and cause inflammation throughout the body. The chronic inflammation seen with gum disease could indirectly weaken the body and heart as well. And both gum and heart disease are linked to similar risk factors, such as smoking, getting older, and diabetes.
Those who brushed their teeth at least three times a day, for instance, were 12 per cent less likely to have heart failure, and people who had lost a substantial majority of their teeth (22 teeth or more) were 35 per cent more likely to have heart failure, after accounting for other factors.
Another good reason (not that we needed one!) to brush your teeth regularly and visit the dentist.