The Scottish health survey questioned more than 11,000 adults and found those with poor oral hygiene had a 70% increased threat of developing heart disease compared with those who brushed twice a day.
The study is the first of its kind to look at whether the frequency of teeth brushing bears any connection to the risk of contracting heart disease.
Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter urges the public to take notice of these claims and reiterates the importance of looking after their mouths.
Dr Carter said: “This study is the first to show a link between self reported oral hygiene measures and cardiovascular disease and also with the inflammatory markers associated with infection. The causal link between poor oral hygiene, gum health and cardiovascular disease still remains to be proven but the paper adds to the grooving evidence from recent scientific papers of a link between gum health and cardio vascular disease, stroke, low birth weight babies and diabetes.
“It is highly appropriate that this study is published during National Smile Month May 17th to June 16th with a theme Teeth4Life is concentrating on the benefits of good oral hygiene not only for oral but also general health.
“People need to brush their teeth to remove all the plaque and to keep their teeth and gums healthy. It is important that everyone brush their teeth twice a day while the plaque is still soft. Brushing teeth should be part of the daily routine, just like washing hands and the face or brushing our hair. We should brush our teeth carefully for two minutes before breakfast and after the last drink before bedtime.
“The ideal way to brush our teeth and keep them healthy for life is to use an electric powerbrush. Tests have shown that these brushes, particularly those with heads that rotate in both directions (‘oscillating’ heads) are up to twice as effective at removing plaque as manual toothbrushes.”
The study, published in the British Medical Journal supports previous work showing a link between gum disease and heart difficulties.
Data was collected on various lifestyle behaviours, such as smoking, exercise and oral health routines.
Participants were also asked how often they visited the dentist and how often they brushed their teeth.
Nurses were then asked to collect information on medical and family history, as well as any cases of heart disease. Participants then had their blood pressure taken and blood samples were given.
Overall, six out of ten people said they visited the dentist every six months while seven out ten reported brushing their teeth twice a day.
The research took eight years to compile and in that time there were 555 “cardiovascular events” such as heart attacks, 170 of which were fatal.
Taking into account factors that affect heart disease risk, such as social class, obesity, smoking and family history, the researchers found those who brushed twice a day were at a lower risk.
Those with poor oral hygiene also tested positive in blood samples for proteins which are suggestive of inflammation.
Dr Carter added: “The British Dental Health Foundation recommends the three following simple steps to help avoid dental disease: Brush teeth twice a day for two minutes using fluoride toothpaste, cut down on sugary foods and drinks and visit the dentist regularly as often as they recommend.
“The National Dental Helpline (0845 063 1188) is there to offer free and impartial advice to anyone who has concerns about their oral health and to those who want further guidance on how to go about improving their oral health in general.”
For further information please contact the Foundation’s Press Office on 01788 546365 or by emailing [email protected]
The British Dental Health Foundation is an independent charity that along with its global arm, the International Dental Health Foundation, is dedicated to improving the oral health of the public by providing free and impartial dental advice, by running educational campaigns like National Smile Month and by informing and influencing the public, profession and government on issues such as mouth cancer awareness and water fluoridation.
Members of the public can contact the Dental Helpline for free and impartial expert advice on 0845 063 1188 Monday to Friday.