Notions from having a positive attitude and outlook on life to simple actions such as brushing one’s teeth to prevent heart disease may appear to be too good to be true to the skeptic. And yet, recently, current studies have only strengthened the correlation between oral hygiene and respiratory and cardiovascular health; you may be surprised to learn that a recent study published this December has found out the exact number of times needed to brush one’s teeth to fend off these illnesses, albeit indefinitely.
Dr. Tae-jin Song, who lead the team of South Korean scientists, recommend that brushing your teeth three times a day is one method to reduce one’s chance of heart disease. Their writings concluded, “Improved oral hygiene care was associated with decreased risk of atrial fibrillation and heart failure. Healthier oral hygiene by frequent tooth brushing and professional dental cleaning may reduce risk of atrial fibrillation and heart failure”.
In a study conducted in Korea, over 160,000 participants underwent a routine medical examination and were interviewed with questions regarding their oral hygiene, who were then reevaluated after 10.5 years. Research attained evidence that those who brushed their teeth at least three times per day, even among individuals who fluctuated in quantity of exercise and drinking, increased their resistance to heart failure by 12%, and reduced their chances of developing atrial fibrillation by 10%. This research, although praised by the European Journal of Preventive for the large case study sample size, also received criticism by other institutions and researchers for limiting the scope of its study to only one nation and, despite increasing evidence of the link between inflammation and heart disease, not being able to definitively prove that brushing one’s molars can fend off heart failure.
While scientists were not able to pinpoint the causation, similar studies have found that the same bacteria in the blood clots of people with stroke and hypertension are bred from poor oral hygiene. A hypothetical reason for the link could be that the habit itself of frequent brushing prevents bacteria from building up in the gums and getting into the bloodstream.
In cultures such as the Far East where emphasis on oral hygiene is mitigated, there may be no drastic motivation for readers in the West to amp up their usual morning and night-time brushing of the teeth. Since the primary reason for most of us to brush our teeth may be to fend off cavities (bad breath and yellow teeth be damned), knowing that brushing before and after every meal daily can possibly ward off some of the more heavy and debilitating heart diseases should be an added incentive, regardless of the connection between oral hygiene and cardiovascular health being conclusive or not.