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Brushing teeth frequently is linked with lower risks of atrial fibrillation and heart failure, according to a new study.
Tooth brushing three or more times a day was associated with a 10 per cent lower risk of atrial fibrillation and a 12 per cent lower risk of heart failure during 10.5-year follow up, the research added.
The study, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, enrolled 161,286 participants of the Korean National Health Insurance System aged 40 to 79 with no history of atrial fibrillation or heart failure.
"We studied a large group over a long period, which adds strength to our findings," said study author Tae-Jin Song of Ewha Woman's University in South Korea.
Previous research suggests that poor oral hygiene leads to bacteria in the blood, causing inflammation in the body.
Inflammation increases the risks of atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) and heart failure (the heart's ability to pump blood or relax and fill with blood is impaired).
This study examined the connection between oral hygiene and occurrence of these two conditions.
Participants underwent a routine medical examination between 2003 and 2004. Information was collected on height, weight, laboratory tests, illnesses, lifestyle, oral health, and oral hygiene behaviours.
During a median follow-up of 10.5 years, 4,911 (3.0 per cent) participants developed atrial fibrillation and 7,971 (4.9 per cent) developed heart failure.
The findings were independent of a number of factors including age, sex, socioeconomic status, regular exercise, alcohol consumption, body mass index, and comorbidities such as hypertension.
According to the researchers, while the study did not investigate mechanisms, one possibility is that frequent tooth brushing reduces bacteria living in the pocket between the teeth and gums, thereby preventing translocation to the bloodstream.
It is certainly too early to recommend toothbrushing for the prevention of atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure, the study said.
"While the role of inflammation in the occurrence of cardiovascular disease is becoming more and more evident, intervention studies are needed to define strategies of public health importance," it added.