Want to help your heart? Brush your teeth
Regular brushing and flossing will not only keep your pearly whites shining bright, the practice can also ward off heart disease, researchers say.
A new study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, reports that healthy teeth and gums can slow the progression of atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosisis is the buildup of fat, cholesterol and calcium in the arteries, which can lead to heart disease and stroke.
Study leaders say that periodontal disease allows for increased release of possibly dangerous bacteria into the bloodstream, which can cause unsafe levels of artery narrowing plaque.
“These results are important because atherosclerosis progressed in parallel with both clinical periodontal disease and the bacterial profiles in the gums. This is the most direct evidence yet that modifying the periodontal bacterial profile could play a role in preventing or slowing both diseases,” said study author Moïse Desvarieux, MD, PhD, in a news release.
The research scientists hope the findings raise awareness of the need for good dental hygiene especially since it can have a direct effect on the heart. Dental health experts agree.
“It’s important for people to understand that good dental hygiene can have a direct and positive impact on their health,” says Dr. Harvey Wigdor, chairman of the Department of Dentistry at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “The benefits of brushing and flossing go far beyond just having healthy teeth.”
The American Dental Association offers this advice to keep your smile healthy:
- Brush your teeth twice a day.
- Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months – sooner if bristles are frayed.
- Floss daily (Learn how to floss properly and find the best way for you.)
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and exams.
For more information on heart health and to take Advocate’s heart risk assessment, visit iHeartAdvocate.com.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.