More and more research is pointing to how your teeth and oral health has an effect on your overall health and even how long you live.
“Teeth are sort of a window in the soul of your health,” says Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN. “If you have inflammation in your gums, then you may have inflammation in other parts of your body. And we know that inflammation is one of the biggest indicators of heart disease moving forward. So think about that: just flossing your teeth dramatically reduces your risk for heart disease.”
Men who have heart disease by age 50, can expect to live years less than women who have heart disease. For heart attacks alone, more than 16 years of life are lost on average, according to American Heart Association statistics. Researchers estimate people with heart failure lose nearly 10 years of life compared to those without heart failure.
So lessening your risk of heart disease can literally help you live to a longer age, like 100 or beyond.
Dr. Gupta recommends flossing BEFORE you brush your teeth and then brushing away the particles that can cause inflammation.
How It Works
According to Harvard Medical School, the bacteria that infect the gums and cause gingivitis and periodontitis also travel to blood vessels elsewhere in the body where they cause blood vessel inflammation and damage; tiny blood clots, heart attack and stroke may follow. Supporting this idea is the finding of remnants of oral bacteria within atherosclerotic blood vessels far from the mouth. Then again, antibiotic treatment has not proven effective at reducing cardiovascular risk.
Rather than bacteria causing the problem, it’s the body’s immune response – inflammation – that sets off a cascade of vascular damage throughout the body, including the heart and brain.
There may be no direct connection between gum disease and cardiovascular disease; the reason they may occur together is that there is a 3rd factor (such as smoking) that’s a risk factor for both conditions. Other potential “confounders” include poor access to healthcare and lack of exercise – perhaps people without health insurance or who don’t take good care of their overall health are more likely to have poor oral health and heart disease.
A study published in 2018 is among the largest to look at this question. Researchers analyzed data from nearly a million people who experienced more than 65,000 cardiovascular events (including heart attack) and found that:
After accounting for age, there was a moderate correlation between tooth loss (a measure of poor oral health) and coronary heart disease.
When smoking status was considered, the connection between tooth loss and cardiovascular disease largely disappeared
The connection between poor oral health and overall health may not be limited just to cardiovascular disease. Studies have linked periodontal disease (especially if due to infection with a bacterium called porphyromonas gingivalis) and