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Teeth-cleaning cuts heart attack risk

15th November 2011

People who have their teeth cleaned regularly may lower their heart attack risk as a result, according to a recent Taiwanese study.

teeth

Lead researcher Emily Zu-Yin Chen, a cardiology fellow at the Veterans General Hospital in Taipei, said that people's protection from heart disease and stroke was most pronounced if they managed to get their teeth scaled at least once a year.

While the bacteria-rich film known as plaque can be cleaned with a toothbrush, tartar can only be removed by a dentist.

Having your teeth cleaned seems to reduce bacterial growth, which can lead to inflammation, heart disease, and stroke.

However, the study authors pointed out that they were not able to account for some risk factors in their study.

Information about weight and smoking was not included in the Taiwan National Health database, which the researchers used as their source.

For the study, the researchers followed over 100,000 people's records for about seven years.

None of the people the researchers studied had demonstrated any previous heart problems or had a stroke.

Some of the people had their teeth cleaned as often as twice a year, while others had their teeth cleaned only once every two years.

The researchers found that people who had their teeth cleaned twice a year were at least 24% less likely to have a heart attack and 13% less likely to have a stroke.

Lawrence Phillips, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of cardiology at New York University, said that the finding did not surprise him.

He said that there had been many studies confirming an association between inflammation and heart disease, and that tartar buildup seemed to lead to chronic inflammation.

In a separate, related study, Swedish researchers showed that different types of gum disease affect people's risk of having a heart attack, heart failure, or stroke.

They were able to link the number of infections people had at the base of their teeth, as well as people's number of teeth, with getting congestive heart failure.

For that study, the researchers made use of data on 8,000 men and women, all of whom were treated for gum disease.

Some of the study subjects were as young as 20, and some as old as 85.

Some of the data was from as early as 1976, while some was from as recent as 2008.

In that study, the researchers found that gum bleeding also seemed to play a role in people's incidence of stroke.

When dentists clean teeth, they remove both plaque and tartar from people's teeth, above and below the gums.

Chen said that brushing could only do so much, and that everyone should have regular professional cleanings.


 

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Comments

Parisa Safaei

Wednesday 16th November 2011 @ 7:38

This result is not surprising in view of existing results that gum disease increases the risk of heart attack, and that in turn regular dental cleanings reduce the risk of gum disease. Putting both together, regular dental cleanings must perforce reduce the risk of heart attack. Was a study really needed? Or could they just have pointed out that 2+2=4?


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