Time to start packing a to-go toothbrush. It turns out that not brushing after eating causes more than halitosis. The bacteria can seep into the blood, which causes inflammation in the body. Now comes the first large-scale, long-term study connecting that poor oral hygiene to tangible health consequences, published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology.
Researchers looked at the healthcare records of 161,286 South Korean adults ages 40-79 and found that those who brushed three or more times a day had a 12% lower risk of heart failure and a 10% lower risk of atrial fibrillation over the next decade. The results stood even after controlling for a raft of other traits such as wealth, exercise, weight, substance use, and health conditions.
Though the study does not explain why, researchers hypothesize that frequent toothbrushing lowers bacteria rates in the crevices between the teeth and gums, known as the “subgingival biofilm.” That prevents the bacteria from seeping into the bloodstream.
Also, don’t cancel your dental cleanings. Regular dental cleanings were also associated with better cardiovascular health.