Friday, May 28, 2010

Brushing Teeth for Heart Health

According to new research, people who don't brush their teeth twice a day have an increased risk of heart disease. The British-based study included nearly 12,000 adults. The study was published today in the British Medical Journal.

Over an eight-year period, there were 555 heart attacks or other serious coronary problems among participants. The effect of regular teeth brushing was significant.

After adjusting the data for other heart risk factors such as social class, obesity, smoking and family history, people who reported less teeth brushing had a 70 percent extra risk of heart disease compared to those who brushed twice daily.

Lead author Dr. Richard Watt explained to Reuters that people with gum disease are more likely to develop heart disease and diabetes because inflammation in the body, including in the mouth and gums, plays a role in the build up of clogged arteries.

"In a way, it's really quite an old story, because back in the early 19th century there was a theory called focal sepsis, and people believed that infections in the mouth caused disease in the whole body," Watt said.

Today, many dentists address patients’ overall health. Dentists trained in dental sleep medicine screen for and treat Sleep apnea. Sleep apnea requires treatment. Left untreated, the condition raises patients’ risk for heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and other problems.

More than 18 million Americans have sleep apnea. But 80 to 90 percent of these people are undiagnosed and untreated. Dentists are in a position to help because they see patients on a regular basis.

In the British study, 63 percent of people visited their dentists every six months.

The World Health Organization reports that heart disease is the leading killer of men and women in Europe and the United States. Together with diabetes, it accounts for almost a third of all deaths around the world in 2005.

Find-a-dentist near you who knows how to screen for sleep apnea.

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The Official Blog of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is intended as an information source only. Content of this blog should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment, and it is not a substitute for medical care, which should be provided by the appropriate health care professional. If you suspect you have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you should consult your personal physician or visit an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center. The AADSM, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as the managing agent of the AADSM, assume no liability for the information contained on the Official Blog of the AADSM or for its use.