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)