02/10/2010 08:06 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Regular Dental Check-Ups Are Good For Your Heart

Everyone knows a great smile is an asset that's on a par with glossy hair and flawless skin - at least where women are concerned, that is. But there's another reason why you shouldn't let those six-monthly dental check-ups lapse.

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According to experts writing in the journal Health Economics, getting regular dental care may slash your risk of developing heart attacks, stroke and other cardiovascular problems later in life by a third.

Interestingly, however, the study - which involved nearly 7,000 people and was carried out by Californian scientists - didn't find the same benefit for men.

Why? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that oestrogen protects women against heart disease until they hit the menopause, claim the researchers.

But how does going to the dentist make your heart healthier exactly? The scientists behind the study admit they're not at all sure - but one likely explanation is that going to the dentist regularly means you're less likely to develop gum disease, something that's been linked to heart problems in previous studies.

For dental care to have a protective effect on a woman's heart you should be having regular check-ups right at the start of the development of cardiovascular disease, say the researchers. So get into the habit of seeing your dentist regularly now, and you could be doing your heart a huge favour by the time you hit your 50s.

What would it take to keep you going to the dentist as often as you should?