Oral Health and Heart Disease

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Oral Health and Heart Disease

Postby ZacK » Wed Jul 14, 2010 1:07 pm

Believe this may have been widely discussed... Just for sharing. Now you have a good reason to bring your toothbrush and toothpaste to office :)

Brush up for a healthy heart

Researchers found that people who brushed their teeth less frequently had a 70 per cent higher risk of heart disease. -NST

Wed, Jul 14, 2010
New Straits Times

By Rajen M

YES! You read right. Brushing your teeth not only helps to avoid emergency trips to your dentist but can also prevent an ambulance ride to your cardiologist.

Can you judge the state of your heart through your mouth? A study published in the British Medical Journal recently indicates that the toothbrush is not only a power tool against tooth decay but also heart disease.

The researchers analysed data from more than 11,000 people who took part in a Scottish Health Survey that examined lifestyle habits such as smoking, overall physical activity and oral health routines.

Patients were asked whether they visited a dentist at least once every six months, every one to two years, rarely or never. They were also asked how often they brushed their teeth.

Striking data

The researchers found that 62 per cent of participants visit a dentist every six months and 71 per cent said they brushed their teeth twice a day.

After adjusting the data for cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity, smoking, social class and family history of heart disease, the researchers found that people who brushed their teeth less frequently had a 70 per cent extra risk of heart disease.

Those with poor oral hygiene also tested positive for bloodstream inflammatory markers such as fibrinogen and C-reactive protein.

Why is this so?


Why? Because inflammation in the mouth can spread to the rest of the body.

"Our results confirmed the suggested association between oral hygiene and the risk of cardiovascular disease," says Richard Watt, DDS, of University College London.

More studies are needed to confirm the findings and to determine whether oral health and cardiovascular disease are causal or simply risk markers.

The inflammation is due to gum infection, medically referred to as gingivitis that is caused by poor oral hygiene. Gums become inflamed, swollen and bleed easily.

Bacteria within the plaque (which forms on teeth) leads to chronic inflammation of the gum line and tooth loss. Chronic inflammation caused by periodontal disease has been linked to a greater risk of cardiovascular disease.

An estimated 2,600 people in the US die of heart disease daily, says the American Heart Association. That's an average of one death every 34 seconds. Meanwhile, someone in the US suffers a stroke every 45 seconds, - or about 700,000 people this year.

"Inflammation plays an important role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and markers of low grade inflammation have been consistently associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease," they write.

Mouth-Heart Link

An earlier study conducted by Moise Desvarieux, MD, PhD, and colleagues appeared in the Feb 8 issue of the journal Circulation.

Previous research also found that brushing, flossing and taking care of your teeth and gums is good for your heart. But those studies examined topics such as tooth loss and not bacteria in the mouth.

Six hundred and fifty seven participants - Hispanic, black and white New Yorkers who were all at least 55 years old - took part in the study. None had suffered a stroke, heart attack or chronic inflammatory condition.

The thickness of their blood vessel wall was also measured. The thickness of the carotid artery wall - the neck's major artery - is used as a measure of atherosclerosis. Studies have shown this to be associated with coronary heart disease and stroke risk.

Mouth bacteria

The mouth is home to hundreds of bacterial species. The researchers focused on three kinds of bacteria - those known to cause gum disease, those not linked to gum disease and those that may affect gum disease.

Participants who had a dominance of bacteria that caused gum disease had thicker carotid arteries. Taking into account other risk factors that may contribute to atherosclerosis did not change the results. How does bacteria in the mouth affect the heart?

It is possible that the bacteria enters the bloodstream, leading to inflammation which then result in the clogging of arteries. Oral infections are common so doctors should be alert to infections in the mouth as signs of increased inflammation. They should tell patients to brush their teeth and maintain good oral hygiene, the researchers conclude.

Good Gums, Healthier Heart

Of course, there are many ways to a healthy heart. Diet and exercise are important. So too are handling of stress appropriately, not smoking and being screened for high blood pressure, diabetes or other health problems. Medication, surgery, and/or lifestyle change may be needed.

And don't forget to brush your teeth at least twice daily.

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