Heart health may be at risk in people who only brush teeth once daily

Past research has linked poor oral hygiene with an increased risk of developing certain chronic health conditions, but a new study warns that brushing once or twice a day may not be adequately protecting your heart. According to a new study published by the European Society of Cardiology, you may need to brush your teeth at least three times every day in order to noticeably reduce your risk of developing certain cardiac issues.

The findings were based on a cohort study that had more than 161,000 participants ages 40 to 79. None of these participants had heart failure or atrial fibrillation when they were enrolled in the study. All of the participants underwent a medical exam and, among other things, provided details about their oral hygiene habits and oral health.

With a follow-up period of more than a decade, more than 4,900 participants had developed atrial fibrillation, which is a heart rhythm disorder, and more than 7,900 had developed heart failure.

Researchers assessed the participants based on their reported oral hygiene habits and found that people who brushed their teeth at least three times every day had a 10-percent lower risk of developing afib and a 12-percent lower risk of experiencing heart failure.

This lowered risk was found after accounting for other potential contributing factors like age, body weight, and conditions like high blood pressure. The researchers speculate that frequently brushing one's teeth reduces the number of bacteria found between the gums and teeth, helping keep it out of the bloodstream.

Past studies have found that mouth bacteria can make its way into the bloodstream, where it triggers inflammation. The inflammation response may then cause other long-term health conditions, including the development of heart disease and dementia.