Research suggests that having teeth scaled once a year can dramatically reduce the chances of developing atrial fibrillation – an irregular heartbeat – that is one of the major stroke risk factors.
If further research confirms the link, it could mean routine dental checks become a simple and effective way of preventing many cases of the condition.
Researchers, from the Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan, recruited nearly 29,000 volunteers over the age of 60 with no history of heart trouble.
They were questioned about how often they went to the dentist for dental scaling and were then tracked them for nearly five years to see who went on to develop atrial fibrillation.
The results, published in the International Journal of Cardiology, showed patients who saw their dentist for a scale and polish at least once a year were a third less likely to develop an abnormal heartbeat.
And the more frequently they had it done, the bigger the benefits. It is thought bacteria increase the rate at which arteries get blocked.