It is more than just about having clean teeth and a sparkling smile. Regular teeth cleanings may help your overall health according to a recent study:
In a large study, people who had their teeth professionally scaled at least once every two years were 24% less likely to have a heart attack, compared with those who skipped the hygienist. Scaling cleans between the gums and the teeth.
And their risk of stroke dropped by 13%, says study researcher Zu-Yin Chen, MD, a cardiology fellow at the Veterans General Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan.
“Something as simple as having good dental hygiene — brushing, flossing, and having regular cleanings — may be good for your heart and brain health,” says Ralph Sacco, MD, head of neurology at the University of Miami. Sacco, the immediate past president of the American Heart Association (AHA), was not involved with the work.
Although the link between dental health and heart and stroke risk is not entirely clear, inflammation is a common problem in gum disease and heart disease, Sacco tells WebMD.
A number of studies have linked chronic inflammation to hardening of the arteries, which can lead to heart attacks and stroke, he says.
Cleaning your teeth gets rid of bacteria in the mouth that can lead to chronic infection and inflammation, which can then spread to other parts of the body, Chen says.
The study was presented at the American Heart Association annual meeting and is presently undergoing peer review. But the message is clear and makes good sense. Avoiding oral infections and keeping up good oral health is an important part of maintaining good overall health. After all, our mouth is as much a part of our bodies as any other part and problems there can certainly have effects elsewhere.
Regular cleanings, brushing and flossing will pay good overall health dividends and help keep you in tip top shape.