The surprising link between oral hygiene and heart health

The surprising link between oral hygiene and heart health

See the surprising mechanisms that connect your oral health and your heart health.

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Sound dental health does more than just give you a great smile. One study suggests that brushing your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes may lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases.1

Researchers have long believed there is a link between heart disease and periodontal disease: a condition marked by gum infection, inflammation and tooth damage. A study by the American Heart Association explored whether a person's toothbrushing habits proved this to be true.

Here’s what participants in the study revealed:

Those who said they brushed their teeth less than twice a day for less than two minutes had a 3X higher cardiovascular risk compared to those who said they brushed at least twice a day for at least two minutes.2

Bad, bad bacteria!
The buildup of bacteria on the teeth that causes gingivitis and periodontitis can also cause blood vessel inflammation and damage elsewhere in the body. In fact, it’s the body's immune response—inflammation—that triggers vascular damage throughout the body, including the heart and brain.3

What you can do to set better dental habits
Happily, good oral hygiene doesn’t take a big effort. The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste.

Other things you should do:

  • Floss regularly
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Avoid tobacco products
  • See your dentist regularly

Many other factors besides oral health can contribute to cardiovascular disease. But good oral hygiene is one simple way of reducing your risk.

  1. Bad toothbrushing habits tied to higher heart risk. American Heart Association News. November 7, 2018
  2. Ibid.
  3. Shmerling, Robert H., MD. Gum disease and the connection to heart disease. Harvard Health Publishing, April 22, 2021.