You know that co-worker who’s always brushing their teeth in the office bathroom? The one you look at kinda weird as they spit into the sink while you’re washing your hands? They are probably going to live longer than you, suggests a new study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. So how many times a day should you brush your teeth?
According to the research, frequent teeth brushing—specifically, three times per day—is linked to greater heart health. The organization’s study followed over 60,000 individuals aged 40 to 79 for 10.5 years, and it found that brushing three or more times per day was associated with a 10 percent lower risk of atrial fibrillation and a 12 percent lower risk of heart failure. While these findings prove correlation rather than causation, they remain significant given the size and duration of the study.
This teeth-heart connection may seem random, but it has to do with the wellness enemy known as inflammation. Bacteria which collects between the teeth and gums can make its way into the bloodstream, leading to inflammation which can in turn cause atrial fibrillation and heart failure. “There has long been a link between poor oral hygiene and systemic inflammation,” says orthodontist Heather Kunen, DDS, MS, co-founder of Beam Street. “While this relationship still isn’t completely understood, many studies are showing that the cleaner we keep our mouths, the less risk we have of bacteria infiltrating our bloodstream and causing systemic health issues.”
According to Dr. Kunen, these compelling findings don’t necessarily mean we all need to become office teeth brushers (OTBs). She explains that when it comes to brushing, quality matters more than quantity. “If patients are thorough with their brushing—they brush for two minutes at each session and adequately clean all surfaces—twice a day is still sufficient,” says Dr. Kunen.
You can overdo it, too. “If patients brush more than two to three times a day, they run the risk of abrading their enamel and gum tissues,” Dr. Kunen says. While this last piece of advice might be a satisfying forward to send that smug hyper-brushing co-worker of yours, don’t forget the overall moral of this story: neglect your oral hygiene and risk not just your smile but also your heart.
On a less is sometimes more tip, you actually shouldn’t brush your teeth after eating some foods—here’s when to skip a scrub. Plus, here’s what your teeth brushing style says about you, according to a dentist.
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