If you don't brush your teeth twice a day, you're more likely to develop heart disease: study

May 27, 2010

Individuals who have poor oral hygiene have an increased risk of heart disease compared to those who brush their teeth twice a day, finds research published today in the British Medical Journal.

In the last twenty years there has been increased interest in links between heart problems and gum disease. While it has been established that inflammation in the body (including mouth and gums) plays an important role in the build up of clogged arteries, this is the first study to investigate whether the number of times individuals brush their teeth has any bearing on the risk of developing heart disease, says the research.

The authors, led by Professor Richard Watt from University College London, analysed data from over 11,000 adults who took part in the Scottish Healthy Survey.

The research team analysed data about lifestyle behaviours such as smoking, physical activity and oral health routines. Individuals were asked how often they visited the dentist (at least once every six months, every one to two years, or rarely/never) and how often they brushed their teeth (twice a day, once a day or less than once a day).

On a separate visit nurses collected information on medical history and family history of heart disease, blood pressure and blood samples from consenting adults. The samples enabled the researchers to determine levels of inflammation that were present in the body. The data gathered from the interviews were linked to hospital admissions and deaths in Scotland until December 2007.

The results demonstrate that oral health behaviours were generally good with six out of ten (62%) of participants saying they visit the dentist every six months and seven out ten (71%) reporting that they brush their teeth twice a day.

Once the data were adjusted for established cardio risk factors such as social class, obesity, smoking and family history of heart disease, the researchers found that participants who reported less frequent toothbrushing had a 70% extra risk of heart disease compared to individuals who brushed their teeth twice a day, although the overall risk remained quite low. Particpants who had poor oral hygiene also tested positive for inflammatory markers such as the C-reactive protein and fibrinogen.

Professor Watt concludes: "our results confirmed and further strengthened the suggested association between oral hygiene and the risk of cardiovascular disease - furthermore inflammatory markers were significantly associated with a very simple measure of poor oral health behaviour". He adds that "future experimental studies will be needed to confirm whether the observed association between oral health behaviour and cardio vascular disease is in fact causal or merely a risk marker".

Explore further: Oil-swishing craze: Snake oil or all-purpose remedy?

Provided by British Medical Journal

3.4 /5 (7 votes)

Related Stories

Scientists find link between inflamed gums and heart disease

Dec 15, 2008

The next person who reminds you to floss might be your cardiologist instead of your dentist. Scientists have known for some time that a protein associated with inflammation (called CRP) is elevated in people who are at risk ...

Poor oral hygiene among 19-year-olds

Jan 19, 2010

Swedish 19-year-olds need to improve their oral hygiene habits. Seven out of eight adolescents have unacceptable oral hygiene, which increases the risk of future dental problems. These are the findings of a new study from ...

Recommended for you

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

Study: Half of jailed NYC youths have brain injury (Update)

Apr 18, 2014

About half of all 16- to 18-year-olds coming into New York City's jails say they had a traumatic brain injury before being incarcerated, most caused by assaults, according to a new study that's the latest in a growing body ...

Autonomy and relationships among 'good life' goals

Apr 18, 2014

Young adults with Down syndrome have a strong desire to be self-sufficient by living independently and having a job, according to a study into the meaning of wellbeing among young people affected by the disorder.

User comments : 0

More news stories

UAE reports 12 new cases of MERS

Health authorities in the United Arab Emirates have announced 12 new cases of infection by the MERS coronavirus, but insisted the patients would be cured within two weeks.

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...