Wanna keep your heart healthy? Brush your teeth!


We have learned over the years that inflammation is the ultimate culprit in many types of disease.  A recent article in the British Medical Journal has looked at a link between inflamed gums and the likelihood of developing fatty deposits in blood vessels (called atherosclerosis), which leads to lots of bad things down the road like heart attacks and strokes.  These researchers looked to see if there was a relationship between the frequency with which someone brushed their teeth and the likelihood of them developing heart disease.  Turns out that brushing twice a day was associated with less heart disease than brushing less frequently. 

Now, I am sure there are scientists out there saying, “Well, people who don’t brush their teeth probably don’t take care of themselves in other ways, too so how do you know it was the tooth brushing that helped them.”  If you thought the same thing, good logical thinking!!  The researchers took a lot of other variables – age, gender, wealth, smoking, physical activity, weight, family history of heart problems, high blood pressure, and diabetes – into account when they designed the study to help them decide if there really was a significant association between what they are studying and what they found.  And they decided that toothbrushing really did have an impact on developing heart disease.  You can read the details yourself to see if you think they really proved it – I’m sure they’d love to hear from you.

Bottom line – keep brushing those pearly whites, and you may just be around longer to use them! 

Roger Miller, MD (OSU SHS Preventive Medicine)

3 thoughts on “Wanna keep your heart healthy? Brush your teeth!

    • The original study was done by:
      Cesar de Oliveira, research fellow in epidemiology and public health,
      Richard Watt, professor and honorary consultant in dental public health,
      Mark Hamer, senior research fellow in epidemiology and public health

  1. The billions of bacteria and other microscopic critters that live in the mouth unquestionably influence the health of teeth and gums. But do they also cause problems for the heart and blood vessels? And can improving oral health prevent cardiovascular problems? The notion that problems in the mouth cause diseases elsewhere in the body makes sense but has been difficult to prove, explains the Harvard Heart Letter. Scientists are exploring several mechanisms that may connect the two processes. In people with periodontitis (erosion of tissue and bone that support the teeth), chewing and toothbrushing release bacteria into the bloodstream. Several species of bacteria that cause periodontitis have been found in the atherosclerotic plaque in arteries in the heart and elsewhere. This plaque can lead to heart attack. Oral bacteria could also harm blood vessels or cause blood clots by releasing toxins that resemble proteins found in artery walls or the bloodstream. The immune system’s response to these toxins could harm vessel walls or make blood clot more easily. It is also possible that inflammation in the mouth revs up inflammation throughout the body, including in the arteries, where it can lead to heart attack and stroke.
    Dr. Sultan Sherzoy DDS
    Bogota Dentistry
    Bogota NJ

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