It’s the holiday season! And for many, that means indulging in all of life’s delicious treats. Enjoying a festive sugary snack alongside family and friends every now and then is no crime—unless you lose track of your hygiene routine.
Forgetting to brush is an easy way to slip into dangerous territory, not only for your mouth, but for your entire body. The cleanliness of your mouth has a direct connection to the healthiness of the rest of your body, including essential organs like the heart.
We know this to be true from a study that surveyed 161,000 South Koreans between the ages of 40 and 79, with no history of heart failure or atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disorder. When participants began the study, they were asked about their lifestyle habits as part of a medical exam, including how often they brushed their teeth.
During a median follow up of nearly 11 years, researchers gathered that those who brushed their teeth at least three times a day had a 10% lower risk of atrial fibrillation, and a 12% lower risk of heart failure.
The study (published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology) noted that age, sex, wealth, exercise, alcohol consumption, body fat, and blood pressure were completely independent of the identified reduced risk.
It’s also been observed that failing to brush and floss regularly causes bacteria to build up in the mouth, which can lead to the bloodstream, and can eventually cause other conditions like heart disease.
While it’s too early in the research to declare that brushing your teeth regularly—especially during the holiday season—will prevent atrial fibrillation and heart failure, it certainly does not hurt. So when you’re decking the halls and sipping hot chocolate this month, don’t forget to brush, floss, and make your first hygiene appointment of 2020.