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Frequent teeth brushing linked with lower risk of heart failure

The i logo The i 5 days ago
a blue and white toothbrush © Provided by The i

Brushing your teeth three or more times a day has been linked with lower risks of heart failure thanks to its bacteria-fighting abilities, a new study has claimed.

Researchers from the European Society of Cardiology examined connections between oral hygiene and occurrences of atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat) and heart failure (when the heart is unable to pump or fill with blood).

Poor oral hygiene leads to increased bacteria in the blood, which causes inflammation, previous studies have found. Inflammation increases the risks of both conditions.

The study examined 161,286 participants of the Korean National Health Insurance System aged from 40 to 79 with no history of atrial fibrillation or heart failure.

Brushing three or more times a day

a woman in a white shirt © Provided by The i

Participants' height, weight, health, lifestyle oral health and oral hygiene behaviours were observed through a routine medical examination conducted between 2003 and 2004.

Within 10 and a half years, 4,911 (3.0 per cent) participants had developed atrial fibrillation, while 7,971 (4.9 per cent) had experienced heart failure.

Brushing teeth three or more times a day was linked with a 10 per cent lower risk of atrial fibrillation and a 12 per cent lower risk of heart failure during this period.

These 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 researchers claimed.

Reduced bacteria

Woman brushing her teeth © Getty Images Woman brushing her teeth

It is possible that repeated teeth brushing reduces bacteria in the subgingival biofilm (bacteria living in the pocket between the teeth and gums), potentially preventing it from reaching the bloodstream.

While the study, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, observed the patients for a long time, it does not prove that frequent tooth brushing can prevent atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure.

The NHS recommends brushing all surfaces of teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day for around two minutes to prevent plaque build-up, gum disease and tooth decay.

Gallery: 20 ways you may be damaging your teeth (Espresso)

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