Research Looks at Tooth Brushing and Heart Disease

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Lifestyle factors play a significant role in the development of heart disease. Most people realize that they can reduce their risk by maintaining a healthy weight and getting plenty of exercise, but recent research shows that oral health can also be vital. The study looked at a cohort of more than 160,000 participants in Korea to track the link between oral hygiene and heart disease. Previous research showed that there was a link between poor oral health and the development of inflammation, which has been linked to both irregular heartbeats and heart failure. The research team took another step towards fully understanding the connection by discovering that regular tooth brushing may reduce the risk of those conditions.

Understanding the Study

The study’s methods were fairly simple. The researchers enrolled a variety of subjects from Korea’s National Health Insurance System, which is the sole insurance provider in the country. All of their participants were between 40 and 79 years old and had no history of heart disease. The researchers gathered basic medical information about all of the study’s participants, which included information on their general health and lifestyle. The researchers also looked at their dental health, including the number of times that each of the participants brushed their teeth each day. The study also included an examination of economic and social factors, which can often influence a person’s health and habits.

The researchers followed up on the study a little more than a decade after they first enrolled their participants. That gave them a chance to see how their health changed over time. They performed statistical analysis on the data to identify trends and produce their final results.

The study looked at a large number of people for a long time. That makes it a very valuable tool for researchers and dentists alike, but it is not conclusive. All of the participants came from Korea, which means that cultural or environmental factors could have influenced the results. It was also purely observational. That prevents the researchers from drawing conclusions about the mechanisms that led to their results. On the other hand, the study’s thoroughness is a strong point in its favor. It may not be absolutely conclusive, but all dental professionals should take it seriously and keep the results in mind.

Clean Teeth Encourage Healthy Hearts

The study revealed several trends that indicate a potential link between oral health and heart disease. The participants who brushed their teeth three or more times each day developed heart disease at a lower rate than the rest of the group. People who received professional cleanings were also less likely to develop heart disease. Those who lost some of their teeth were more likely to have trouble with their heart.

What is the Connection?

This study does not suggest a cause for the link between heart disease and poor oral health. The medical community needs to perform more research before they can draw strong conclusions about it. The research team suspects that oral bacteria can enter the circulatory system through periodontal pockets to cause heart disease. Inflammation from periodontal disease may also be a factor. The topic is getting more and more attention from dental researchers over time, so they are likely to get a clearer picture of the problem in the future.

Applying the Findings

The study may not provide enough hard data to suggest tooth brushing as a preventative tool for heart disease, but it does emphasize the importance of clean teeth and healthy gingiva. All oral health professionals should keep that in mind and make sure that their patients understand both the importance of brushing and how to do it properly.

Now Listen to the Today’s RDH Dental Hygiene Podcast Below: