Your Teeth and Your Heart

As if clean, sparkling teeth weren’t enough motivation to go the dentist, new research suggests it could also be good for your heart.

A study by researchers at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health suggests that women who get dental care reduce their risk of heart attacks, stroke and cardiovascular problems by at least one-third. The analysis of data from nearly 7,000 people ages 44-88 enrolled in the Health and Retirement Study did not find a similar benefit for men.

The study compared people who went to the dentist during the two previous years with those who did not. The researchers say they were not completely surprised by the fact that men and women did not benefit equally from dental care, because previous studies have found that the relationship between poor oral health and heart disease markers varies by gender. They believe the findings reflect differences in how men and women develop cardiovascular disease.

The authors of the study suggest that dental care should occur early in the development of cardiovascular disease in order for it to have a protective effect. Oral health experts recommend visiting the dentist twice a year and brushing and flossing at least twice a day.