Regularly brushing your teeth can help protect you from heart attacks, researchers have found.
Poor dental hygiene and bleeding gums can allow up to 700 types of bacteria to enter the bloodstream.
But brushing and flossing has now been found to help to combat bacteria in the mouth that can cause hardening of the arteries which may lead to heart attacks and strokes.
This means that people who brush their teeth at least twice a day are less likely to suffer from a heart attack or stroke.
Dr Moïse Desvarieux, of Columbia University in New York, said: ‘These results are important because atherosclerosis (the narrowing of arteries
through the build-up of plaque) progressed in parallel with both clinical periodontal disease and the bacterial profiles in the gums.
‘This is the most direct evidence yet that modifying the periodontal bacterial profile could play a role in preventing or slowing both diseases.’
Researchers at the University’s Mailman School of Public Health looked into the link between gum disease and atherosclerosis – when the arteries are clogged with fatty substances – by studying the dental health of 420 adults over three years.
It is believed bacteria buildup in the mouth can cause clots in the arteries which lead to heart attacks.
Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health ¬Foundation, told the Express: ‘This is truly ground-breaking.
‘The potential link between what goes on in your mouth and the health of your heart has been an intense topic of debate for some time. This research clearly shows the more you improve and maintain your gum health, the less chance there is of developing a potential life-threatening illness.’