Brushing teeth frequently is linked with lower risks of atrial fibrillation and heart failure, says a new study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology. It examined the connection between oral hygiene and occurrence of these two conditions. The study enrolled 161,286 participants of the Korean National Health Insurance System aged 40 to 79 with no history of atrial fibrillation or heart failure. During a median follow-up of 10.5 years, 4,911 participants developed atrial fibrillation and 7,971 developed heart failure.
Tooth brushing three or more times a day was associated with a 10 percent lower risk of atrial fibrillation and a 12 percent lower risk of heart failure during the 10.5-year follow-up. One possibility is that frequent tooth brushing reduces bacteria in the subgingival biofilm - bacteria living in the pocket between the teeth and gums - thereby preventing translocation to the bloodstream. Participants underwent a routine medical examination between 2003 and 2004. Information was collected on height, weight, laboratory tests, illnesses, lifestyle, oral health, and oral hygiene behaviors. The findings were independent of a number of factors including age, sex, socioeconomic status, regular exercise, alcohol consumption, body mass index, and comorbidities such as hypertension.
The analysis was limited to one country and, as an observational study, does not prove causation, says senior author Dr. Tae-Jin Song of Ewha Womans University, Seoul, Korea. "We studied a large group over a long period, which adds strength to our findings." Previous research suggests that poor oral hygiene leads to bacteria in the blood, causing inflammation in the body. Inflammation increases the risks of atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) and heart failure (the heart's ability to pump blood or relax and fill with blood is impaired). An accompanying editorial stated: "It is certainly too early to recommend tooth brushing for the prevention of atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure." It adds: "While the role of inflammation in the occurrence of cardiovascular disease is becoming more and more evident, intervention studies are needed to define strategies of public health importance."
Link Between Middle-Aged Tooth Loss And Increased Coronary Heart Disease Risk
Since tooth loss in middle age can signal elevated cardiovascular disease risk, adults can take steps to reduce the increased risk early on. Losing two or more teeth in middle age is associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention | Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions. Studies have shown that dental health problems, such as periodontal disease and tooth loss, are related to inflammation, diabetes, smoking and consuming less healthy diets.
In a collaborative research effort between Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, researchers analyzed the impact of tooth loss in large studies of adults, aged 45 to 69 years, in which participants had reported on the numbers of natural teeth they had, then in a follow-up questionnaire, reported recent tooth loss. Adults in this analysis didn't have cardiovascular disease when the studies began. The researchers prospectively studied the occurrence of tooth loss during an eight-year period and followed an incidence of cardiovascular disease among people with no tooth loss, one tooth lost and two or more teeth lost over 12 to 18 years.
Among the adults with 25 to 32 natural teeth at the study's start, those who lost two or more teeth had a 23 percent increased risk of cardiovascular disease, compared to those with no tooth loss. The increased risk occurred regardless of reported diet quality, physical activity, body weight and other cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. There wasn't a notable increase in cardiovascular disease risk among those who reported losing one tooth during the study period. Cardiovascular disease risk among all the participants regardless of the number of natural teeth at the study's start increased 16 percent among those losing two or more teeth during the study period, compared to those who didn't lose any teeth.
Adults with less than 17 natural teeth, versus 25 to 32, at the study's start, were 25 percent more likely to have cardiovascular disease. "Previous research has also found that dental health issues are associated with elevated risk of cardiovascular disease," says study author Lu Qi, M.D., Ph.D., professor of epidemiology at Tulane University in New Orleans. “However, most of that research looked at cumulative tooth loss over a lifetime, which often includes teeth lost in childhood due to cavities, trauma and orthodontics. Tooth loss in middle age is more likely related to inflammation, but it hasn't been clear how this later-in-life tooth loss might influence cardiovascular disease risk. In addition to other established associations between dental health and risk of disease, our findings suggest that middle-aged adults who have lost two or more teeth in recent past could be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease. That's regardless of the number of natural teeth a person has as a middle-aged adult, or whether they have traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as poor diet or high blood pressure."
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With over 30 years of writing and editing experience for newspapers, magazines and corporate communications, Kevin Kerfoot writes about natural health, nutrition, skincare and oral hygiene for Trusted Health Products’ natural health blog and newsletters.
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.