Brush Your Teeth -- It's Good for Your Heart
Brush Your Teeth—It's Good for Your Heart
- Brush inner, outer, and chewing surfaces at least twice daily with a soft-bristled brush held at a 45° angle. Some people find electric brushes easier to use.
- Floss at least once daily, gently guiding the floss between teeth. While holding floss taut and curved around each tooth, slide the floss up and down. Use a clean section of floss for each tooth.
- Obtain professional dental cleaning every six months, more often if you are prone to plaque or gingivitis. "It's probably the best investment an adult can make in terms of preventing periodontal disease and decay," Caton says.
- Ask for an annual periodontal screening and assessment of the degree to which gum tissue has pulled away from teeth.
Birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, pregnancy, puberty, and menstrual cycles all raise estrogen levels. "The receptor cells on periodontal tissues are sensitive to estrogen, which causes an exaggerated reaction to bacteria left after brushing," Caton explains. What this means is that you should be scrupulously attentive to tooth brushing and flossing under these conditions.
Some blood pressure medicines and epilepsy drugs create an overgrowth of gum tissue, especially in people with an existing gum condition. Bacteria can easily accumulate in the enlarged gums and start to destroy the tissues that support the teeth.
Scientists have accumulated overwhelming evidence that smoking increases the risk of periodontal disease. In addition, a study at the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine found passive, in-home exposure to tobacco smoke increased the risk of gum detachment and bleeding as well as severe periodontal disease by 70%.
The same university found heavy drinking upped the odds. Senior researcher Sara G. Grossi, DDS, says the risk of periodontal disease increased from 10% to 20%, 30%, and then 40% as alcohol consumption rose from five drinks per week to 10, 15, and 20.
The body has a harder time fighting infection without proper nutrients. University at Buffalo researchers discovered that low levels of antioxidant vitamins increased periodontal risk, attributing the findings to the body's need for antioxidants to maintain homeostasis and control bacterial damage.
Keeping emotions on an even keel will help, too. People confronted with stressful situations often become distracted and cut corners on hygiene habits. In addition, not coping with stress reduces the normal functioning of the immune system
- Gums pulling away from the teeth
- Swollen, red, or tender gums
- Gums that bleed with brushing or flossing
- Bad breath
- Loose or missing teeth
- A change in bite or the fit of partial dentures
- Pus between the tooth and gum
American Academy of Periodontology http://www.perio.org/
American Dental Association http://www.ada.org/
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research: National Institutes of Health http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/
Healthy Living Unit (Public Health Canada) http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/
D'Aiuto F, Parkar M, Andreou G, Brett PM, Ready D, Tonetti MS. Periodontitis and atherogenesis: causal association or simple coincidence? J Clin Periodontol. 2004;31(5):402-411.
Hung HC, Joshipura KJ, Colditz G, Manson JE, Rimm EB, Speizer FE, Willett WC. The association between tooth loss and coronary heart disease in men and women. J Public Health Dent. 2004;64(4):209-215.
Does the mouth put the heart at risk? National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website. Available at: http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/.
Large scale study looks at link between periodontal and heart disease. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website. http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/.
Oral opportunistic infections: Links to systemic diseases. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website. Available at: http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/spectrum/nidcr2/2grasec3.htm.
First evidence found of link between gum disease and high alcohol consumption, low dietary antioxidants. University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine website. Available at: http://www.buffalo.edu/scripts/newnews/index.cgi?article=firstevide.
Ford PJ, Yamazaki K, Seymour GJ:Cardiovascular and oral disease interactions: what is the evidence? Prim Dent Care. 2007;14:59-66.
UB researchers identify specific oral bacteria most likely to increase risk of heart attack. University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine website. Available at: http://www.buffalo.edu/scripts/newnews/index.cgi?article=ubresear13.
Yeh ET: High-sensitivity C-reactive protein as a risk assessment tool for cardiovascular disease. Clin Cardiol. 2005; 28:408-12.
- Reviewer: Brian P. Randall, MD
- Review Date: 10/2010 -
- Update Date: 10/12/2010 -