We all know that it’s important to brush our teeth every day to keep things like cavities and root canals at bay. According to a new study, though, it’s not just our chompers and gums that get a boost from this daily habit.
You might think you take perfect care of your teeth, but research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology claims that most of us are slacking when it comes to the amount of times we brush each day. As you probably guessed by the title of the journal, this discovery isn’t just about our oral health, but also our hearts. According to their results, we should all be brushing our teeth three times a day — at least — to keep our oral and cardiac health in the best shape.
Along with overall heart disease, the study looked specifically at cases of atrial fibrillation (A-fib), which is when the heart is unable to properly pump blood to the rest of the body because it’s not beating regularly. According to the American Heart Association, approximately 2.7 million people in our country are currently living with the condition, which can lead to blood clots and stroke.
But wait, how can our teeth be linked to our hearts in the first place? Dr. Tae-Jin Song of Ewha, senior author of the study, said in a press release, “Poor oral hygiene can provoke transient bacteremia and systemic inflammation, a mediator of atrial fibrillation and heart failure.” Basically, the icky germs we’re supposed to be brushing away can linger in our mouths and transfer to our hearts through our blood system and cause our tickers to stop working as they should.
The team of researchers observed data from over 160,000 participants and found that those who brushed their teeth more frequently (again, at least three times a day) were 10 percent less likely to develop A-fib and lowered their risk of heart failure by 12 percent.
Dr. Son and her team also acknowledge that there needs to be more research done on the subject. In the meantime, there isn’t any harm in making sure you keep your teeth shiny and help your heart at the same time by brushing a bit more than you already are. Sure, it might mean carrying around a travel toothbrush and some paste around with you to give your teeth a good scrub after lunch, but it will be worth it.
And yes, that includes flossing and regular cleanings at your dentist, too!