There are an increasing number of studies showing a relationship between oral hygiene and certain health conditions. Read on for more information…
75% of all Americanss have some type of gum disease. Sadly, most people only brush for one minute, and hardly ever floss! This and a diet filled with bacteria-loving foods, such as starches and sugars, can easily lead to problems with oral health. Recent research has actually linked gum disease and poor oral hygiene to strokes and heart attacks; in fact, those with gum disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease than those without. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common kind of heart disease, and occurs when a build up of plaque in the coronary arteries thicken the walls, narrowing them, and making it difficult for blood to pass through normally, eventually leading to blockages. This means the heart receives less blood, which can mean shortness of breath, angina, and eventually even a heart attack.
Researchers believe that bacteria from a diseased mouth enters the blood stream and eventually bonds to the plaque in the arteries, contributing to the formation of clots. How does this occur? A mouth with bleeding gums, often an early sign of gum disease, allows an easy path for the bacteria to enter the blood, while healthy gums generally do not bleed, which keeps the bacteria out of the body and away from the heart.
Another health condition recently linked to gum disease is obesity. An estimated 31% of all American are now considered obese. A study by the Journal of Dental Research looked at the saliva of 313 overweight women (BMIs between 27 and 32) compared to a sample of 212 healthy women. They found that a single bacteria, selenomonas noxia, was found in 98.4% of of the overweight women, and may serve as a biological marker for developing obesity.
A similar study by a group of British researchers studied 500 women, 60% of which suffered from obesity. When compared to a control group of women of a healthy weight, they found that same bacteria to be significantly higher in 98% of the overweight women. It is still unclear whether the bacteria causes obesity, or obesity creates a condition in which that bacteria can thrive, but more extensive research is in the works to see if it is possible to find out.
The health conditions above are serious, and excellent reasons why it is so important to practice good oral hygiene. This is especially true if you are using a manual toothbrush. Manual toothbrushes are extremely effective IF they are used correctly and when they right type is chosen for the individual situation. Most people will need to brush at least three, even four minutes to achieve optimal results, along with daily flossing, rather than the general “two minute” guideline many recommend. If you are concerned you are not brushing correctly, Dr. Kotre and her staff are happy to give you a refresher at your next appointment. There are also many excellent videos available demonstrating proper brushing technique.
Electric toothbrushes, while not inexpensive, are an excellent investment in your oral health, as they make correct brushing practically automatic. If you are interested in purchasing an electric toothbrush, give us a call at 734-677-2156, and ask what patient specials we have happening right now.