Poor Oral Care Cardiac Link Established

Poor oral hygiene can be deadly - and not just because of 'killer' bad breathe.

It has emerged that not brushing teeth twice a day means people are more likely to develop heart disease

Individuals who have poor oral hygiene have an increased risk of heart disease compared to those who brush their teeth twice a day, finds research published today on the British Medical Journal's website, BMJ.com.

In the last 20 years there has been increased interest in links between heart problems and gum disease.

While it has been established that inflammation in the body (including mouth and gums) plays an important role in the build up of clogged arteries, this is the first study to investigate whether the number of times individuals brush their teeth has any bearing on the risk of developing heart disease, said the research.

The authors, led by Professor Richard Watt from University College London, analysed data from over 11,000 adults who took part in the Scottish Healthy Survey.

The research team analysed data about lifestyle behaviours such as smoking, physical activity and oral health routines.

Individuals were asked how often they visited the dentist (at least once every six months, every one to two years, or rarely/never) and how often they brushed their teeth (twice a day, once a day or less than once a day).

On a separate visit nurses collected information on medical history and family history of heart disease, blood pressure and blood samples from consenting adults.

The samples enabled the researchers to determine levels of inflammation that were present in the body.

The data gathered from the interviews were linked to hospital admissions and deaths in Scotland until December 2007.

The results demonstrate that oral health behaviours were generally good with 62% of participants saying they visit the dentist every six months and 71% reporting that they brush their teeth twice a day.

Once the data were adjusted for established cardio risk factors such as social class, obesity, smoking and family history of heart disease, the researchers found that participants who reported less frequent toothbrushing had a 70% extra risk of heart disease compared to individuals who brushed their teeth twice a day, although the overall risk remained quite low.

Particpants who had poor oral hygiene also tested positive for inflammatory markers such as the C-reactive protein and fibrinogen.

Professor Watt concluded: "Our results confirmed and further strengthened the suggested association between oral hygiene and the risk of cardiovascular disease - furthermore inflammatory markers were significantly associated with a very simple measure of poor oral health behaviour."

He added: "Future experimental studies will be needed to confirm whether the observed association between oral health behaviour and cardio vascular disease is in fact causal or merely a risk marker."


Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

04 April 2014
Excessive Use Of Mouth Wash May Cause Cancer
Poor oral health and failure to have regular dental checks could increase the risk of mouth and throat cancer, according to a pan-European study. The research also suggests – based on a small number of tumour patients – that excessive use of mouthwash may also cause this particular form of cancer.
14 August 2009
Women Should Use Safer 'Pill': BMJ
Many women are not using the safest brands of oral contraceptive pill with regard to the risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, finds a study published on bmj.com today.
17 October 2008
Aspirin 'Doesn't Prevent Heart Attacks'
Despite GPs prescribing the drugs to many thousands of their patients by way of prevention, new research suggests that aspirin does not after all prevent heart attacks.
01 February 2012
Extra Cash Announced For Dentists
The Health Secretary has announced extra cash for dentistry in an attempt to increase the number of people able to access an NHS dentist. According to the Department of Health, 820,000 more people have already been given access to an NHS dentist since May 2010.
01 July 2009
Statins Good For Healthy People At Risk Of Heart Disease
Widely prescribed statins should be given to people without established cardiovascular disease but with risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes, concludes a study published on bmj.com today. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and disability in the Western world.