FORT MYERS -
Not so good about heading to the dentist for that twice-a-year cleaning? Now, there's more incentive: those cleanings and scrapings could help you ward off heart attacks and strokes.
Randy Dazell knows the importance of a good teeth cleaning.
"I come in twice a year," Dazell says.
It might seem routine, but for Dazell, keeping up with his oral hygiene could be life-saving. Eighteen years ago, he had open-heart surgery where doctors replaced his aortic valve.
That puts him in a special group of patients that must take antibiotics before heading to the dentist.
"The idea is that bacteria in our mouths can get into those valves and stick to them," says Fort Myers dentist Dr.
According to a recent study out of Taiwan, getting your teeth cleaned and scraped can reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth, bacteria that could cause inflammation that can lead to heart disease or stroke.
"Long standing infection, inflammation, the release of bacteria into the blood, and the release of your body's own inflammatory mediator can cause platelets to be more aggressive," says cardiologist Dr. Michael Corebellini. "This can increase your chance of having a vascular event such as a heart attack."
According to the study, participants who got their regular dental cleanings were 24-percent less likely to have a heart attack, and 13-percent less likely to have a stroke.
The link has been studied for years, but this was one of the first studies that focused primarily on teeth cleanings and scrapings.Michael Sheffield. "And you can get an infection of the heart."
But it's not just people with specific cardiac needs that should take care of their teeth—it's good for everyone, in some potentially life-saving ways.