The four minute daily habit that boosts longevity – it doesn’t involve diet or exercise
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Living a long life is no longer mysterious thanks to decades of groundbreaking research into the most important factors. Chief among them is building a buffer against chronic disease through your lifestyle. For example, cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death globally but the risk factors are modifiable.
Eating well and exercising regularly are integral to risk reduction but research has also found novel ways to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
A daily four minute activity has been linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease: brushing teeth twice daily.
Researchers in a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) sought to examine whether self reported toothbrushing behaviour is associated with cardiovascular disease and markers of inflammation.
They drew on data from the Scottish Health Survey; a nationally representative sample of the general population living in households in Scotland.
Oral health behaviour was assessed in surveys conducted on 11,869 men and women with a mean age of 50.
Toothbrushing frequency was defined by brushing teeth twice a day, once a day, less than once a day.
On a separate visit nurses collected information on medical history and family history of cardiovascular disease, blood pressure, and blood samples from consenting adults.
There were a total of 555 cardiovascular disease events over an average of 8.1 years of follow-up, of which 170 were fatal.
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Participants who reported poor oral hygiene (never/rarely brushed their teeth) had an increased risk of a cardiovascular disease event.
The data suggests that brushing your teeth twice daily can mitigate the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
“Poor oral hygiene is associated with higher levels of risk of cardiovascular disease and low grade inflammation, though the causal nature of the association is yet to be determined,” the researchers concluded.
Tips for optimal teeth brushing
“Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day for about two minutes to help keep your teeth and mouth healthy,” advises the NHS.
Plaque is a film of bacteria that coats your teeth if you don’t brush them properly.
It contributes to gum disease and tooth decay.
Should I use an electric or manual toothbrush?
It doesn’t matter whether you use an electric or manual toothbrush.
“They’re both equally good, as long as you brush all the surfaces of all your teeth and you use fluoride toothpaste,” explains the NHS.
The health body continues: “But some people find it easier to clean their teeth thoroughly with an electric toothbrush.
“For most adults, a toothbrush with a small head and a compact, angled arrangement of long and short round-end bristles is fine. Medium or soft bristles are best for most people.”
As it explains, if you’re using an electric brush, one with an oscillating or rotating head may work better than a manual toothbrush.
“But making sure you thoroughly clean your teeth at least twice a day is more important than the type of brush you use. If in doubt, ask your dentist.”
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