Atrial fibrillation, which is also referred to as AF or AFib, is a condition that causes arrhythmias. Arrhythmia is the term used for an irregular or quivering heartbeat. AFib can lead to blood clot formation. These blood clots can cause an individual to suffer a stroke, heart failure or some other heart-related complication. However, the good news is that studies indicate brushing your teeth three times a day makes it less likely that you will develop atrial fibrillation and blood clots, thus, reducing the risk of heart-related complications.
Studies Show the Importance of Frequent Brushing
The results of a Korean study were published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). During this study, researchers looked at data gathered from more than 160,000 people, whose ages ranged from 40 to 79. These individuals had national health coverage and had never experienced cardiovascular problems. After 10.5 years, the researchers conducted a follow-up and found that nearly 5,000 (3%) of the people developed AF and almost 8,000 (4.9%) of the people included in this study developed heart failure. Participants who took the time to brush their teeth three times every day reduced their risk of developing AF by 10 percent and of experiencing heart failure by 12 percent.
The Benefits of Frequent Brushing and Professional Cleanings
Individuals who get professional dental cleanings every six months also experienced a 7 percent decrease in the likelihood that he or she would experience heart failure. In addition, frequent brushing helps you keep your natural teeth, which is important when you consider that individuals who are missing a substantial number of teeth (22 or more) have a 32 percent higher risk of experiencing heart failure. In order to keep your natural teeth as long as possible, it is essential that you have regular cleanings and practice good oral hygiene.
How Poor Dental Care Affects the Heart
Neglecting to care for your teeth as recommended can lead to the development of periodontal disease, which causes inflammation and gums that bleed easily. Researchers believe that when an individual neglects to care for his or her teeth properly, as more and more bacteria build up in the mouth, the risk of this bacteria entering the bloodstream through abrasion or an opening in the gingival tissue (gums) increases.
Frequent tooth brushing reduces the number of bacteria present below the gum line and helps to prevent the development of periodontal disease, thus, reducing the likelihood that bacteria will enter the bloodstream. If the bacteria do enter the bloodstream, once it reaches the heart, the bacteria adhere to the heart valves, activating platelets, which is what leads to the development of a clot.