Those of you who have read my book “Virtual Medicine” (if you haven’t, why not!), will have been surprised by my report that teeth can kill. It began as dental infections lodging bacteria in the heart and causing fatal widespread septicemia in the days before antibiotics. But 100 years later, by the end of the 20th Century, it had come around again despite antibiotics, that significant gum disease (periodontal disease) was a major risk factor for death by heart attack.
Now a brand new study (May 27, 2010) has re-inforced what I said. Teeth and gum infections are deadly. Consider this a minor installment on my anti-aging “outside the box” report which is coming up any day now.
Researchers in the UK analyzed data from over 11,000 people who were taking part in a study called the Scottish Health Survey. Patients were asked whether they visited a dentist at least once every six months, every one to two years, rarely, or never. They were also asked how often they brushed their teeth — twice daily, once a day, or less than every day.
The researchers found that 62% of participants said they went to a dentist every six months, 71% said they brushed their teeth twice a day.
After adjusting the data for cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity, smoking, social class, and family heart disease history, the researchers found that people who admitted to brushing their teeth less frequently had a 70% extra risk of heart disease.
What’s more, people who reported poor oral hygiene also tested positive for important inflammatory markers such as fibrinogen and C-reactive protein, which themselves are predictors of early death. In other words, if you slouch on cleaning your teeth, you are very significantly more likely to die young. It may seem incredible but the pathways are clear, well demonstrated and the backup science is pretty well irrefutable.
Do you need me to tell you what to do? I think not.
[The study is published in the journal BMJ, published online May 27, 2010].