Medical News Today highlights the importance of gum health, as it may reflect your risk for heart diseases.

Lead author Moïse Desvarieux and a team of researchers from Columbia University in New York gave 420 adults aged 60 to 76 oral infection and artery thickness exams at the beginning of the study and three years later.

Over 5,000 plaque samples were collected and analyzed for 11 strains of bacteria associated with several oral diseases and seven control bacteria. Interleukin-1β, which is a known marker for inflammation, was also retrieved from each participant's gums.

Meanwhile, the presence of atherosclerosis, or the thickening of the arteries due to the accumulation of plaque containing calcium and fat, was examined using ultrasound scans.

The results showed that the less plaque there was on the participants' teeth and gums, the less plaque there might be in their arteries. And the lesser oral bacteria a person had, the slower the progression of atherosclerosis could be.

Although researchers have yet to delve into how bacteria in the mouth is related to atherosclerosis, they postulate that inflammation caused by periodontal disease bacteria may be speeding up the accumulation of plaque in one's arteries.

Experts recommend brushing your teeth three times a day and visiting your dentist every six months in order to keep plaque away from your mouth and your arteries.

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(Photo by digicla via Flickr Creative Commons)

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