Tooth Brushing May Help You Avert Heart Failure Research Shows

Regular Tooth Brushing Could Lower Risks of Irregular Heartbeat and Heart Failure

It has been known for years that good oral care may offer protection against cardiovascular diseases. New research out of Korea, published in a journal of the European Society of Cardiology, shows that brushing your teeth regularly may shield the heart against problems.

Brushing Teeth

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Researchers showed in the study that appeared in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology on December 2nd that frequent tooth brushing lowers the risks of atrial fibrillation and heart failure.

Previous studies had shown that poor oral care could result in bacteria entering the blood. When this happens, the microorganisms bring about inflammation, which, in turn, raises a person’s risks of atrial fibrillation and heart failure.

Atrial fibrillation is another name for irregular, and often rapid, heart rate. Heart failure describes a condition in which the ability of the heart to pump blood and re-fill with blood is reduced.

Brushing and reduced incidence of heart issues

Researchers mainly set out to understand the possible relationship oral hygiene has to the incidence of both atrial fibrillation and heart failure in this current analysis. They enrolled more than 161,000 participants of the Korean National Health Insurance System for their retrospective cohort study.

The subjects, aged between 40 and 79 years, had no history of either of the two conditions. They had a routine medical assessment in the period between 2003 and 2004. Researchers gathered data on such things as oral health, height, weight, lifestyle, illnesses, and oral hygiene habits.

The follow-up of the participants was done for a median period of 10.5 years. The research team observed that about 3 percent of the subjects (4,911) developed atrial fibrillation. Roughly 5 percent (7,971) suffered from heart failure.

Participants who brushed at least three times daily showed a 10 percent reduced risk of atrial fibrillation. The incidence of heart failure was also 12 percent lower among this group of subjects.

The observed lower atrial fibrillation and heart failure risks were independent of a variety of factors. Socioeconomic status, age, body mass index (BMI), regular exercise, sex, alcohol intake, and comorbidities were some of those factors.

Possible mechanism

In this study, the researchers did not explore the mechanisms that could link poor oral hygiene to both atrial fibrillation and heart failure. But they posit that regular tooth brushing possibly helps to break down the bacterial load in the subgingival biofilm.

By subgingival biofilm, reference is to bacteria inhabiting pockets existing between teeth and gums. Tooth brushing can forestall the translocation of these microorganisms to the bloodstream.

This was just an observational study. It does not confirm causation, according to Dr. Tae-Jin Song of Ewha Woman’s University. In addition, the research took place within a single country.

Dr. Song, who is the senior study author, however, said that their study of a large group of subjects over a long period makes their findings worthy of attention.

Nevertheless, the researchers noted that it was too early to start advocating tooth brushing as a safeguard against atrial fibrillation or congestive heart failure. They expressed the need for “intervention studies” to come up with strategies that can help boost public health.

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