Poor oral hygiene may raise risk of heart failure and stroke: new study

Regular brushing and flossing is the key to good oral hygiene. This prevents problems such as tooth decay and gum disease. But now a new study has shown that it may even help protect your heart.

A study by a team from the University of Hiroshima in Japan found a significant relationship between gum health and heart health.

From a study of 76 participants with heart disease, they established a link between periodontitis, severe gum infection, and atrial fibrosis.

Atrial fibrosis causes scarring of the left atrial appendage, which can lead to an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation.

This is a condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate.

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People with atrial fibrillation have an increased risk of stroke and even heart failure, both of which can be fatal.

Speaking to Science Daily, study first author Shunsuke Miyauchi explained, “Periodontitis is associated with long-term inflammation, and inflammation plays a key role in the progression of atrial fibrosis and the pathogenesis of atrial fibrillation.

“We hypothesized that periodontitis exacerbates atrial fibrosis.

“This histological examination of the left atrial adnexa aims to elucidate the relationship between the clinical status of periodontitis and the degree of atrial fibrosis.”

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As part of the study, the left atrial appendages were surgically removed from patients.

The scientists then analyzed the tissue to establish a correlation between the severity of atrial fibrosis and the severity of gum disease.

It was found that the more severe the periodontitis was, the more severe the fibrosis was, suggesting that gingival inflammation may exacerbate inflammation and heart disease.

“This study provides baseline evidence that periodontitis may exacerbate atrial fibrosis and may be a new modifiable risk factor for atrial fibrillation,” says corresponding author Yukiko Nakano.

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Ms. Nakano believes that good gum care can help treat atrial fibrillation as well as improving other risk factors such as weight, activity level, tobacco and alcohol use.

However, she added: “More evidence is needed to establish that periodontitis causally contributes to atrial fibrosis and that periodontal care can reverse fibrosis.

“One of our goals is to confirm that periodontitis is a modifiable risk factor for atrial fibrillation and to promote the participation of dentists in the comprehensive treatment of atrial fibrillation.

“Periodontitis is an easily modifiable, lower cost target among the known risk factors for atrial fibrillation.

“Thus, the results of this series of studies could benefit many people around the world.”

Factors that may increase the risk of periodontitis include:

  • Gingivitis
  • Bad oral hygiene habits
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Hormonal changes, such as those associated with pregnancy or menopause.
  • Recreational drug use, such as smoking marijuana or vaping.
  • Obesity
  • Malnutrition, including vitamin C deficiency
  • Genetics
  • Certain medicines that cause dry mouth or gum changes
  • Conditions that cause immunosuppression, such as leukemia, HIV/AIDS, and cancer treatment
  • Certain diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.

Symptoms of the condition include:

  • Swollen or swollen gums
  • Bright red, dark red, or purple gums
  • Gums that feel tender to the touch
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Toothbrush with a pink tint after brushing
  • Spitting out blood while brushing or brushing your teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Pus between teeth and gums
  • Loose teeth or loss of teeth
  • Painful chewing
  • New spaces between teeth
  • The gums move away from the teeth (droop), making the teeth look longer than usual.
  • Changing the way your teeth fit together when you bite.

Brushing your teeth twice a day and visiting the dentist regularly can help prevent periodontitis.

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