14/11/2011 05:10 GMT

Regular Dentist Appointments Could Cut Heart Attack Risk By A Quarter

Regular trips to the dentist could help keep more than just your teeth in good health. Health experts from the Veterans General Hospital in Taipei, found that frequent visits to a dental hygienist cut heart attack risks by nearly a quarter.

According to the findings, presented at the American Heart Association, people who had their teeth professionally polished and cleaned at least twice every two years had a 24% lower risk of heart attack than those who had poor dental hygiene.

Experts believe that regular dental hygiene reduces inflammation-causing bacteria growth that could potentially lead to heart disease.

And it's not just teeth and heart health that is boosted by a trip to the dentist, as good dental care also reduces the risk of a stroke by 13%.

The study was based on the data of 100,000 people held in the Taiwan National Health insurance database.

"Protection from heart disease and stroke was more pronounced in participants who got tooth scaling at least once a year," says Dr. Zu-Yin Chen from the Taiwan study.

The researchers added that although the participants from the data had no history of heart disease or strokes, the study didn't take into account other factors such as weight and whether they smoked.

However, Dr. Zu-Yin Chen is hoping that further research can be conducted to look at how other modifiable factors could affect the results.

In a separate study, researchers from the Centre for Research and Development of the County Council of Gavleborg, discovered a link between the number of teeth a person has and their risk of a heart attack.

The Swedish researchers found that those who have 21 teeth or fewer, were more likely to have a heart attack than those who had 32 teeth.