In November, the strongest link between the health of your mouth and the health of your heart was found. Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health indicated that as gum health improves, the risk of developing atherosclerosis decreases.
What is atherosclerosis, you ask? Pronounced ath-er-o-skler-O-sis, this disease occurs when plaque accumulates inside your arteries, the blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to the heart and other parts of the body. As plaque builds, atherosclerosis can result in serious problems, such as heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease.
The research monitored 420 adults over three years, during which 5,008 sub-gingival samples were collected at 75,766 periodontal sites. On average, each subject had seven dental samples taken per visit, while common carotoid artery intima-medial thickness, the test for atherosclerosis, was measured using a high-resolution ultrasound.
Essentially, the results highlighted that the worse the oral health of the participant, the higher their rate of atherosclerosis. Patients who improved their periodontal hygiene over the course of the three years showed a slower progression of atherosclerosis.
"This is the most direct evidence yet that modifying the periodontal bacterial profile could play a role in preventing or slowing both diseases," said Dr. Moïse Desvarieux, co-author of the study and associate professor epidemiology at the School of Public Health at Columbia University, wrote in a Columbia University news release.
Over the past few years, connections between heart disease and bad gums have topped headlines. However, this is the first study to wield substantial data that shows how taking care of your mouth can actually reduce the risk for cardiovascular problems. Scientists posited that since the mouth is the gateway to the body, the plaque and anaerobic bacteria found in rotting gums - periodontitis, or advanced-stage gum disease - can break off and enter the bloodstream, thereby triggering clot formations. Over time, plaque solidifies on the walls of the arteries and reduces blood flow. These blocked pathways diminish the blood flow to the heart, and lead to a rise in blood pressure and increased the risk of heart attack.
Now, Columbia University underscored that brushing and flossing regularly not only kicks bad breath, but acts as a heart-booster.
"This research is truly ground-breaking," Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation Dr. Nigel Carter told the source. "The potential link between what goes on in your mouth and the health of your heart has been an intense topic of debate for some time. This research clearly shows the more you improve and maintain your gum health, the less chance there is of developing a potential life-threatening illness."
Brush and floss!
This evidence only emphasizes the importance of staying up on oral health habits. Brush your teeth following the "two and two" rule - twice each day for two minutes each. This will help attack anaerobic bacteria and harmful plaque. Flossing once a day is very important. If your gums start to bleed when you use the thread, it likely means you haven't done it in a while, and could use a little practice. Your heart and your smile will thank you. Schedule regular visits to the dentist - twice a year on average. Don't wait until you come across a toothache or receding gum line to get a routine cleaning. Your dentist will be able to spot problems before they become painful or expensive. Be proactive, prevent gum disease today!
Remember, you can't spell "overall" health without "oral" health.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please Note: The material on this site is provided for informational purposes only. Always consult your health care professional before beginning any new therapy.