Flossing your teeth can prevent you from a stroke

London: In one more reason why you should not forget flossing your teeth after brushing, a new study has suggested that it not only improves your oral health, but may also help reduce the risk of a stroke.

According to a Japanese study, tooth loss and gum disease increase the risk of a stroke later in the life, but it can be halved by maintaining good oral hygiene.

Researchers at Hiroshima University found that those with fewer than 24 teeth (adults should have 32) are 60 per cent more likely to suffer a stroke, the Daily Mail reported.

Stroke is caused by a disturbance of blood supply to the brain. The most common type is an ischemic stroke, which occurs when a blood vessel that normally delivers oxygen and nutrients to the brain is blocked. An haemorrhagic stroke is when a blood vessel bursts, causing bleeding into the brain.

In any stroke the nerve cells in the affected area of the brain may die within minutes of being denied oxygen, leading to impairment of bodily functions. About 53,000 people die of a stroke every year in Britain alone.

For the study, the researchers looked at the dental conditions of 358 patients and found that stroke patients in their 50s and 60s had significantly fewer remaining teeth than those in the same age groups who had been treated for other conditions.

The number of teeth remaining was also significantly lower among stroke patients in their 50s than in the general population of the same age.

The researchers then analysed results from four separate studies and found that having 24 or fewer teeth increased the risk of stroke by 57 per cent compared with those with 25 or more teeth.

The researchers also took into account a range of other risk factors associated with stroke, including smoking habits, obesity and alcohol use.

"This review suggests that tooth loss may be related to both ischemic and haemorrhagic strokes," said Dr Mitsuyoshi Yoshida, who led the study.

Some studies have suggested a link between periodontal disease and heart disease. Periodontal diseases range from gum inflammation to diseases that damage the tissue and bone that support the teeth. Gum disease is one of the main causes of tooth loss after the age of 40.

The mouth is brimming with bacteria, which contributes to the sticky, colourless plaque that binds to teeth. Brushing and flossing helps get rid of plaque, the researchers said.

Dr Sharlin Ahmed of The Stroke Association says: "It is believed that oral bacteria can contribute to the furring up and narrowing of artery walls, which could result in a stroke.

"Oral bacteria could also attach to fatty deposits in the arteries, which can lead to a blood clot and could result in a stroke."