A few years ago, researchers discovered a link between dental hygiene and heart disease. When it was first announced, many people took this news to mean floss or die. In reality, the risks are a little less severe but still important to consider. The major concern pointed out by the study was that poor or inadequate flossing leads to periodontal disease which is characterized by inflammation in the gums. Once inflammation occurs, the body ramps up in response to the infective agents that are the cause of the inflammation. Left unchecked, this infection can spread to other parts of the body, causing similar inflammatory symptoms, particularly to the delicate walls of arteries and blood vessels. Over time, as we get older, these weakened blood vessels become more prone to plaque build-up and blockages, which are leading contributing factors behind heart attacks. It can be mind boggling to imagine that lazy dental hygiene can contribute to heart failure. At the same time, however, our bodies are marvelously intricate machines that must be precisely calibrated if we want them to perform at peak levels.
Aside from the heart disease issue, proper dental hygiene can go a long way towards enhancing the way you age. Starting with your smile itself, the appearance of your teeth declines with age. Unless you make a concerted effort, staining accumulated over the many years of your life starts to become more noticeable. Teeth become weaker and more prone to cavities, root canals, tooth loss and other things that make our mouths and faces look older than we’d like. What’s more, dental health seems to have a link to obesity and type 2 diabetes as well. As should come as no surprise, when our teeth hurt we tend towards softer foods, which are most commonly laden with more trans fats and sugars to smooth out the texture. Eat enough of those and you’ll start packing on the pounds and knocking your blood sugar out of whack. And nothing says “old” like fat, toothless and medicated – right?
So grab a brush and some floss, and make it a point to keep not just your teeth, but your entire mouth clean. You’ll be glad you did and you might even live a little longer to enjoy your healthy decision.