Seoul (dpa) - Regular brushing is not only important to prevent tooth decay or periodontitis - it could also protect the heart. This suggests at least one South Korean study, the results of which were published in the journal "European Journal of Preventive Cardiology".
Thus, people who brush their teeth at least three times a day have a lower risk of cardiac arrhythmias and heart failure. Hardly any other place in our body has more bacteria than the oral cavity. If the teeth cleaning neglected, these are no longer kept in check. As a result, inflammation can occur, which initially affect teeth and gums and then migrate via nerve tracts and blood vessels in the body.
The connection between dental hygiene and a number of diseases has been known for some time - for example, in the case of lung and heart inflammation, erectile dysfunction, heart attacks and strokes. Another possible connection was found in the study of the South Korean Ewha Women's University.
Tae-Jin Song's team used the National Health Insurance System database for analysis and selected 161,286 participants aged between 40 and 79 whose medical history did not include heart problems. One study included data on the size, weight, laboratory values, diseases, lifestyle, oral health and oral hygiene behavior of these people. An average of a decade later, the investigation was repeated. At that time, 4911 of the participants (3 percent) developed atrial fibrillation - that is, a cardiac arrhythmia - and 7971 (4.9 percent) developed heart failure.
What was striking was that those who brushed their teeth three or more times a day had a ten percent lower risk of atrial fibrillation and a 12 percent lower risk of heart failure than those with poorer oral hygiene. Recurring professional teeth cleaning also had a positive effect. These findings were independent of factors such as age, gender, socioeconomic status, regular exercise, alcohol intake, body mass index and other factors such as high blood pressure.
How the effect could come about, the investigation does not answer. The researchers suggest that regular brushing reduces bacteria in the hard-to-reach pockets between the gums and teeth - preventing them from getting into the bloodstream.
Song admits that the analysis is based on data from a single country and can not show any root cause as a pure observational study, but also emphasizes: "We have studied a large group over a long period of time, which strengthens our results." One strength of the study , which also highlight the two physicians Pascal Meyre from the University Hospital Basel and David Conen from the Canadian McMaster University in an accompanying commentary.
Meyre and Conen note, however, that factors such as levels of education and marital status were not surveyed and considered, although these had a demonstrable impact on oral hygiene. In addition, the information on teeth brushing based on statements of the participants themselves, which always means a certain possibility of error. "It's certainly too early to recommend brushing your teeth to prevent atrial fibrillation and heart failure," the two doctors conclude. First, further analyzes are needed.