Regular dental visits and keeping the teeth clean can help prevent conditions that can lead to a stroke, says research.
A team from the Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan has found that getting teeth "deep cleaned" can dramatically reduce the chances of developing atrial fibrillation - an irregular heartbeat, which is one of the major stroke risk factors, the Daily Express reported.
AdvertisementEven dental scaling done just once a year seemed to have a powerful protective effect.
People suffering atrial fibrillation have a faster than normal heartbeat, which may cause tiny blood clots which break up and travel towards the brain, triggering the stroke.
The team of researchers recruited nearly 29,000 volunteers over 60 with no history of heart trouble and questioned them about how often they went to the dentist for dental scaling, where the build-up of plaque and tartar is removed.
They then tracked them for nearly five years to see which ones went on to develop atrial fibrillation.
The results, published in the International Journal of Cardiology, showed patients who saw their dentist for a scale and polish at least once a year were a third less likely to develop an abnormal heartbeat.
And the more frequently they had it done, the bigger the benefits. It is thought bacteria increase the rate at which arteries get blocked.
British Dental Health Foundation chief executive Dr Nigel Carter said the study highlighted the importance of regular trips to the dentist.
Keeping your teeth healthy can help reduce the risk of atrial fibrillation - one of the leading causes of stroke.
Regularly having your teeth cleaned to prevent gum disease also helps to prevent cavities, receding gums and tooth loss.
In addition it may help fight bad breath.