Have you ever thought that perhaps regular toothbrushing is equivalent to a tablet of aspirin in preventing heart disease? Have you reminded your patients of the importance of dental hygiene?
Dental care is an important component of preventive medicine. There is evidence to suggest that people who fail to brush their teeth twice daily have a higher risk of developing heart disease and report an increase in inflammatory markers (ESR, hsCRP, CRP, Fibrinogen, Homocysteine) via standard pathology (Oliveria, Watt & Hamer, 2010). In a recent study that addressed the health of 11,869 Scottish men and women, researchers from The University College of London found that those with poorer oral hygiene had a 70 percent higher relative risk of developing heart disease than individuals who brushed their teeth twice daily (Oliveria, Watt & Hamer, 2010). Moreover, individuals with poor oral hygiene reported higher levels of fibrinogen (a clotting factor associated with heart risk) and higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). This being so, it is not surprising to find that cases of gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) were strongly associated with an increase in the level of fibrinogen and C-reactive protein.
de Oliveira, C., Watt, R & Hamer, M. 2010. Toothbrushing, inflammation, and risk of cardiovascular disease: results from the Scottish Health Survey. British Journal of Medicine, 340, doi: 10.1136/bmj.c2451.