What does brushing teeth have to do with the human heart?

Recent study suggests that brushing teeth three times or more per day can reduce risk of atrial fibrillation significantly. 

According to the latest research, brushing teeth for more than three times a day can significantly reduce an individuals’ chances of contracting atrial fibrillation and heart failure. Experts believe that the bacteria in our mouths can lead us to the answer better health.

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The research team discovered vital clues pertaining to pancreatic and esophageal cancer risk in mouth bacteria. While, some prior studies have liked poor oral hygiene to respiratory problems. Evidence has further been provided to simultaneously link oral hygiene with cardiovascular health. Studies have found oral bacteria found in the blood clots of people who were received emergency treatment for stroke. Moreover, experts have linked gum disease with a higher risk of hypertension.

Scientists further believe that destroying ‘friendly oral bacteria’ that helps in maintaining a healthier and more balanced oral microbiome could also be a reason behind the disruption of blood pressure levels, which may lead to hypertension in certain cases. Consequently, it is of great significance to maintain good oral health which is largely believed to be a leading causer of cardiovascular health.

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According to the latest research in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, it has been suggested that brushing teeth actively and more regularly may help in prevention of heart failure, specifically, atrial fibrillation (A-fib) which is a form of arrhythmia, respectively.

Dr. Tae-Jin Song, who is a senior study author, explains that the poor oral hygiene may #provoke transient bacteremia and systemic inflammation’ which is ‘mediator’ for the atrial fibrillation and even deteriorating heart health.

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Dr. Song et al., investigated the associations between atrial fibrillation, heart failure and poor oral hygiene. Consequently, they used data from almost 161,286 people who were a part of the Korean National Health Insurance System-Health Screening Cohort, respectively. They discovered that A-fib is a condition that affects about 2.7 million people in the United States alone. Based on their findings, it was inferred that the heart cannot pump blood with efficiency because it does not beat as regularly, if the individual possesses A-fib. They elaborated that the heart also fails to pump efficiently for people with a history of heart failure.

This inefficiency of the heart directly results in fatigue and even difficulty in breathing due to a lack of oxygen supply to other organs within the body.

The researchers participants between forty to seventy-nine years old who lacked a history of A-fib and/or heart failure. Initially, they measured the participants on the basis of height and weight and further classified on basis of lifestyle, oral health, and oral hygiene habits, respectively. Furthermore, the participants had to undergo laboratory tests which included blood and urine samples as well blood pressure readings.

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During the course of the study which lasted for almost ten and a half years, the 4,911 participants were diagnosed as A-fib, while the other 7,971 participants ended up developing cardiovascular trouble such as heart failure. Thereby, scientists believe that brushing teeth for three or more times lowers the chances of developing A-fib by an almost ten percent, whereas risk of heart failure is reduced by an almost twelve percent.

The research team further argued that ‘confounding factors’ such as an individuals’ sex, age, physical activity, alcohol intake, BMI [body mass index], and even socio-economic status had no influence over the study findings.

Improved oral hygiene care was associated with decreased risk of atrial fibrillation and heart failure. Healthier oral hygiene by frequent toothbrushing and professional dental cleanings may reduce risk of atrial fibrillation and heart failure.

Study Authors

They further stated that the study cannot explain the causation and is limited because it was conducted by observing the people living within one country thereby, the findings cannot be generalized.

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