By Sean Zucker –
If there is one thing that unites almost everyone, it’s that we lie to our dentists about flossing. However, you may want to stop and start (lying and flossing, that is). Lying is bad but there is convincing evidence that failure to floss could be deadly. Studies have found that flossing and good oral hygiene help prevent a plethora of conditions from stroke to heart disease and even Alzheimer’s.
Although the connection between dental health and a serious illness like Alzheimer’s may seem ambiguous, there is evidently a link. Last year, a study published in Science Advances established a correlation by focusing on gingivitis and gum disease-causing bacteria called Porphyromonas gingivalis. After entering the brain, this bacteria releases gingipains, enzymes that are known to destroy nerve cells, therefore, leading to memory loss. Researchers examined the brains of 53 deceased Alzheimer’s sufferers and found high levels of gingipain in nearly all of them. One of the most common placements for this type of bacteria is in between teeth, often residing there as a direct result of lack of flossing.
Need more flossing encouragement? The U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention notes that each year an alarming 795,000 people suffer a stroke and 140,000 die from it. That should be enough to spur an array of preventive measures, including embracing better dental care. Researchers at Tampere University in Finland, in fact, recently underscored that point after completing a ten-year analysis of 75 stroke patients that found 79% of their brains contained bacteria DNA linked to dental infections. The study’s results and sample size alone are substantial enough to make the ominous correlation difficult to ignore.
As researchers and doctors continue to examine the link between oral health and overall health, new evidence also has now surfaced pointing towards an association with heart disease. Generally caused by the narrowing or blockage of crucial blood vessels, heart disease is demoralizing and often fatal. While usually the result of an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, obesity or smoking, a study published by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests gum disease may also play a role. The study concluded that individuals with gum disease who received sufficient oral care for the condition were up to 40 percent less likely to suffer from a cardiovascular event. The belief behind the numbers being that as gum disease goes untreated or inadequately treated, the gums begin the inflame leading to a possible narrowing of blood vessels.
Further evidence connecting poor dental care with high blood pressure and difficulty controlling it has led to the American Dental Association and American Heart Associate to both acknowledge the link and wage caution for sufferers. The good news is keep failing to floss and you may not need to see a dentist. Instead, you might need an appointment with a cardiologist or perhaps an undertaker.