Getting the teeth cleaned by a professional may not only give you a healthy and sparkling smile but also a healthier heart, according to a new study. In this study, people who regularly got their teeth cleaned and scaled by a dentist had a 24% less chance of getting heart disease, when compared to those who miss their appointment with the dentist. Scaling helps to clean the regions in between the teeth and the gums. The risk of stroke also was found to reduce considerably by 13%, according study researcher Zu-Yin Chen, MD, a cardiology fellow at the Veterans General Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan. The study results were published at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association.
Regular cleaning activities, like brushing, flossing, and scaling, help to keep the heart and brain healthy, according to Ralph Sacco, MD, head of neurology at the University of Miami, and the immediate past president of the American Heart Association (AHA). The connection between oral hygiene and heart health is not clear, but inflammation may be the common thread between gum disease and heart problems, adds Sacco. A number of studies has shown a link between chronic inflammation and hardening of arteries, which later leads to a heart attack and stroke.
Regular cleaning of teeth removes the bacteria that causes chronic inflammation and infection, which can both spread to other parts of the body. In this study, the researchers reviewed the data of more than 100,000 people from the Taiwan's national health insurance database. About 50% of the people had received at least one professional teeth cleaning, while the other half never had any cleaning. The participants were of the average age of 30-years-old, and did not have a history of heart attack or stroke. The follow-up period for the study was over the course of seven years.
Results showed that the lowest risk of heart disease and stroke was seen in people who had more than one dental cleaning in a year. The drawback of the study was that researchers did not take into consideration the risk factors for heart disease, like obesity and smoking. “This could have affected the results to a certain extent”, according to Sacco.