A new study confirms the link between oral hygiene and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Research published online in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) shows there is a greater chance of heart disease for people who do not brush their teeth twice a day.
Confirming a long-suspected link between gum disease and heart disease, the study found people who never or rarely brush their teeth are at a 70% higher risk than those who brush twice a day.
The research authors pointed out, though, that the overall risk posed by poor oral hygiene is still fairly low.
Experts from University College London analysed data for more than 11,000 people with an average age of 50 taking part in the Scottish Healthy Survey. They looked at people's brushing habits as well as their lifestyles, such as whether they smoked or took exercise.
The 70% risk increase held true even when factors likely to influence the results - such as obesity and smoking - were taken into account. Poor oral hygiene was also linked to low-grade inflammation in the blood.
Author, Professor Richard Watt, said: "Our results confirmed and further strengthened the suggested association between oral hygiene and the risk of cardiovascular disease."
"It doesn't take a survey to show that people with bad hygiene habits are also careless about other habits that impact on health putting them in a high risk category for ill health" - Phil, Primary Care