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Do Not Forget To Floss Your Arteries!
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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 for 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.

"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."

Brushing and flossing are effective means of preventing periodontal disease, but diabetes can counteract these efforts. Diabetes, which kills more people annually than breast cancer and AIDS, can weaken your mouth's ability to fight germs, increase blood sugar levels, and make periodontal disease more difficult to control. Your dentist may suspect diabetes if you brush and floss regularly and still have symptoms of periodontal disease. Nearly 21 million children and adults in the U.S. have diabetes, yet one-third of them are not aware they have the disease. Regular gum disease therapy and treatments can help avoid diabetes complications as serious as death.

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 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 percent 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.

Dr. Kammer adds, "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 percent increase of periodontal bone loss have a 40 percent 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 bacterial 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 and the roof of your mouth.
  • Once a Day: Floss your teeth and use an irrigator like a Waterpick or Hydrofloss for even deeper cleaning of the gum pockets.
  • 2 to 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

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