Good oral hygiene and regular trips to a private dentist could reduce a person's risk of heart disease, new research suggests.
Scientists at the University of Otago Dunedin in New Zealand have identified a new link between gum disease and heart disease, adding to a growing body of evidence that suggests poor oral health could harm the heart.
The researchers believe that the link between oral infection and 'furring' of the arteries may be due to the similarities between proteins made by humans and proteins made by bacteria.
The body is unable to tell the difference between the proteins and could attack its own by mistake, causing arterial disease.
Professor Greg Seymour commented: "This is a significant step towards a more complete understanding of heart disease and improving treatment and preventive therapies.
"An understanding of all the possible risk factors could help lower the risk of developing heart disease and lead to a significant change in disease burden."
The findings were presented at the Society for General Microbiology's Autumn meeting in Dublin.
Who can you complain to about private hospital care?