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Don't Forget to Floss Your Arteries

Important info that can save your life from Carl Ern, D.D.S. and the Putnam Dental Associates team.

Scary things like Diabetes, Stroke, Heart Disease, and Pancreatic Caner are more at risk from a lack of Brushing & Flossing

Can a toothbrush help clean out your heart? Surprisingly, yes.  Brushing your teeth has been shown to be the first step in preventing periodontal disease that can lead to heart disease, stroke, and diabetes complications.

Dr. Chris Kammer of the Center of Cosmetic Dentistry says that 80% of adults have periodontal disease and most cases go undetected.  The disease raises the level of harmful bacteria in the mouth, which travels through the bloodstream to other organs in the body, and can lead to a plaque buildup in arteries surrounding the heart and to the brain.

“Most people don’t think of their dentist when it comes to health problems that are not found in one’s mouth,” says Dr. Kammer.  “But a dentist can actually be the first line of defense in reducing the risk for many of the most deadly diseases.”

As periodontal disease worsens, surgery may be needed to save your teeth.  The more teeth a person has lost, the greater the risk for cardiovascular problems such as heart disease.  Bleeding gums is just one of the many symptoms of periodontal disease.  New studies published in the Journal of Periodontology are linking periodontal disease to diabetes and heart disease.  And the American Association for Cancer Research has even found that diseased gums raise the risk of pancreatic cancer.

In fact, men with a history of gum disease had a 63% higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer relative to men without periodontal disease after factoring out smoking, diabetes, obesity, and other potentially confounding factors.  Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of death from cancer death in the U.S.

“If you washed your hands and they started to bleed, you would be alarmed, right?  Then how come the majority of people are not alarmed when they brush their teeth and their gums bleed?”

According to Dr. Kammer, periodontal disease works to destroy gums and is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.  It is now known that patients with a 20% increase of periodontal bone loss have a 40% increase in developing chronic heart disease.  The process begins when the plaque that settles around your gum lines fails to be removed by daily brushing and flossing.  When plaque stays on your teeth, it turns into tartar, and only your dentist can remove tartar.  The plaque and the tartar are irritants that house the bacteria that cause the gums to become infected.

It was found by researchers that diseased gums released higher levels of bacteria pro-inflammatory components into the bloodstream.  These bacterial agents could travel to other organs in the body and cause damage.

Tips for preventing periodontal disease that could lead to diabetes and heart disease:

-          Every Day: Be knowledgeable about how gum problems start and look for early signs

-          Twice a Day: Brush your teeth.  Also remember to brush your tongue.

-          Once a Day: Floss your teeth and use an irrigator like a Waterpick for even deeper cleaning of the gum pockets.

-          2-4 times a year: Visit your dentist for a cleaning (50% of patients must go to the dentist more than twice a year to maintain gum wellness). Up to 70% of people have gum disease, so more frequent visits will be required until the disease is under control.

-          Be proactive: Visit your dentist if you have any of these symptoms-warning signs of periodontal disease:

  • Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing
  • Red, swollen, or tender gums
  • Gums that have pulled away from teeth
  • Bad breath

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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