Brushing Your Teeth Twice A Day ‘Could Prevent Heart Disease'

The Huffington Post UK  |  By Posted: 26/03/2012 16:41 Updated: 26/03/2012 16:41

Brushing Teeth Heart Disease

Brushing your teeth twice a day not only keeps your smile looking bright, it also staves off heart disease, according to a new study.

Researchers from Bristol University and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) have discovered that poor oral health transports nasty mouth bacteria (also known as streptococcus gordonii) to other parts of the body through the bloodstream, increasing the risk of inflammation and blood clots.

Streptococcus gordonii normally contributes to plaque forming on teeth and if it loiters in the mouth for too long and reaches the bloodstream, the bacteria mimics the protein in the body that controls the blood clotting process.

This causes the blood to clot and significantly increases the risk of endocarditis (a dangerous heart infection).

This potentially fatal heart condition is caused when blood clots grow on the heart valves and restricts the blood flow to the heart.

The scientists from the study presented their findings at the Society for General Microbiology’s conference and revealed plans to develop new drugs that prevent blood clots and treat infective endocarditis.

"Our team has now identified the critical components of the S. gordonii molecule that mimics fibrinogen, so we are getting closer to being able to design new compounds to inhibit it. This would prevent the stimulation of unwanted blood clots," Dr Steve Kerrigan from the RCSI said in a statement.

Lead researcher Dr Helen Petersen, said: "In the development of infective endocarditis, a crucial step is the bacteria sticking to the heart valve and then activating platelets to form a clot.

“We are now looking at the mechanism behind this sequence of events in the hope that we can develop new drugs which are needed to prevent blood clots and also infective endocarditis.”

Dr Petersen also said that although the condition can be treated with strong antibiotics, it is becoming increasingly difficult because the bacteria (which grows inside the blood clot) is resistant to antibiotic treatment.

"About 30% of people with infective endocarditis die and most will require surgery for replacement of the infected heart valve with a metal or animal valve.”

June Davison, senior cardiac nurse from the British Heart Foundation said in a statement: “It’s already well established poor oral hygiene can increase the risk of endocarditis. The condition is very rare but it’s also very serious - the lining of the heart becomes infected which can damage your heart’s valves.”

“Good oral hygiene can help to protect you against endocarditis so it’s really important to clean your teeth everyday and visit your dentist regularly.”

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  • Foods That Ward Off Heart Disease

    Eat yourself to a healthy heart with these cardiovascular-friendly foods.

  • Oats

    Oats contain beta glucan, a soluble fibre that helps reduce cholesterol levels, especially LDL (bad cholesterol), which damage the heart.

  • Green Leafy Vegetables

    Green leafy vegetables like spinach, fenugreek, pak choy, radish leaves, lettuce are known to reduce the risk of heart disease as they are rich sources of folic acid, magnesium, calcium and potassium - the essential minerals for keeping the heart functioning properly. Studies have shown that one daily serving of green leafy vegetables can lower the risk of heart disease by 11%.

  • Tofu

    Soy is a healthy protein alternative to red meat, as it has a low saturated fat content, no cholesterol and even increases your HDL 'good' cholesterol, which is good news for your heart.

  • Tomato

    Regular consumption of tomatoes is known to reduce the risk of heart disease, as they contain a rich source of vitamin K, which help prevent hemorrhages.

  • Wholegrains

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  • Apples

    Apples contain guercetin, a photochemical containing anti-inflammatory properties, vital for keeping blood clots at bay, which can lead to heart attacks.

  • Almonds

    Almonds, when eaten in moderation, are known to lower cholesterol levels as they contain monosaturate fats (the 'good' fats), as well as vitamin B17, vitamin E and minerals like magnesium, iron and zinc.

  • Red Wine

    Red wine (when drank in moderation) can be good for the heart as it contains a powerful antioxidant called resveratrol, which helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces "bad" cholesterol and prevents blood clots.

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