“Abu Hurairah (R) narrates that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: ‘Was it not for my fear of imposing a difficulty on my Ummah I would have ordered that the Miswaak be used for every Salaat’.”
LONDON: People who do not brush their teeth twice a day have an increased risk of heart disease, scientists said yesterday, adding scientific weight to 19th century theories about oral health and chronic disease.
British researchers studied nearly 12,000 adults in Scotland and found those with poor oral hygiene had a 70 per cent extra risk of heart disease compared with those who brushed twice a day and who were less likely to have unhealthy gums.
People with gum disease are more likely to develop heart disease and diabetes because inflammation in the body, including in the mouth and gums, plays a role in the build-up of clogged arteries, said Professor Richard Watt of University College London, who led the study.
The 70 per cent extra risk compares to a 135 per cent extra risk of heart disease in those who smoke, he said.
The study, published yesterday in the British Medical Journal, was the first to investigate whether the simple number of times someone brushes his teeth daily has any bearing on the risk of heart disease.
Although the overall risk is low – with a total of 555 heart attacks or other serious coronary problems among 11,869 people – the effect of regular teeth brushing is significant.
‘Compared to things like smoking and poor diet, which are obviously the main risk factors for heart disease, we are not claiming this is in the same league,’ Prof Watt said. ‘But…even after controlling for all those things, there is a still a relationship between this very simple measure of teeth brushing and heart condition.’
‘In a way, it’s really quite an old story. Back in the early 19th century, there was a theory called focal sepsis, and people believed that infections in the mouth caused disease in the whole body,’ he added. ‘As a result, they used to take everyone’s teeth out.’
He said such a response was ‘a bit dramatic’, but his findings did suggest that twice-a-day brushing is a good idea.
Gum or periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth and is more likely to occur in people who do not brush their teeth regularly.
Prof Watt said further studies will be needed to confirm whether the link between oral health and heart disease ‘is in fact causal or merely a risk marker’.
Ms Judy O’Sullivan, a senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, told the British Broadcasting Corporation that failure to brush one’s teeth can cause infection and inflammation in the mouth.
‘However, it is complicated by the fact that poor oral hygiene is often associated with other well-known risk factors of heart disease, such as smoking and poor diet,’ she said. ‘If you want to help your heart, you should eat a balanced diet, avoid smoking and take part in regular physical activity.’
Heart disease is the leading killer of men and women in Europe, the United States and many other rich nations. With diabetes, it accounted for nearly one-third of all deaths around the world in 2005, according to the World Health Organisation.