Brushing your teeth may save your life

Most people - six in 10 - do not go for dental check-ups every six months as recommended, a 2011 poll on more than 300 people here found.

But having your teeth cleaned regularly could help save your life.

People who have gone for professional tooth scaling in the past year are 31 per cent less likely to have a heart attack and 15 per cent less likely to have a stroke in the next seven years than those who do not do so, a study on nearly 22,000 Taiwanese adults found last year.

Tooth scaling removes plaque - sticky film harbouring bacteria that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease - which builds up on teeth.

Gum disease has been linked to increased risks of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. For instance, people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease than those without.

Researchers believe that the bacterial infection that causes gum disease can spread to the blood vessels and make them chronically inflamed, which contributes to heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

If you cannot drag yourself to the dentist, at least brush your teeth twice a day.

A study on nearly 12,000 adults in Scotland reported in 2010 that those with poor oral hygiene had a 70 per cent extra risk of heart disease compared to those who brushed twice a day.

And researchers in the United States who followed nearly 5,500 elderly people for 18 years found last year that those who brushed their teeth less than once a day were up to 65 per cent more likely to develop dementia than those who brushed daily.

Brushing your teeth every day - and a visit to the dentist every six months - keep the doctor away.


Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.

SERVICES