It sounds strange doesn’t it? Take care of your teeth to take care of your heart. [Remember “Save the cheerleader, save the World.”?]But it’s true. And, it’s even bigger than that. Good dental hygeine not only prevents heart problems, it may extend your life!
The connection is this: INFLAMMATION.
You know the drill: When you don’t brush or floss and then go to the DDS for teeth cleaning your gums are red, inflamed and bleed easily. Your dental hygienist and your dentist will usually go over each tooth and the DDS will call out numbers (from 1 to 4) to the hygienist who notes these numbers. The numbers represent the degree of “pocketing” that occurs around each tooth. They also note the amount of bleeding that occurs. If you have a lot of 3s and 4s, your dentist is going to urge you to start flossing more often or coming in for cleaning more often.
The reason there is inflammation is that you have a constant INFECTION going on in your mouth if you don’t clean up your act. This constant infection is causing your body to respond in ways that cause problems down the road: your blood is thicker and clots too easily, your joints ache, inflammatory “markers” like CRP and Homocysteine and others are elevated. The worst effect over time is unseen: the very LINING OF YOUR BLOOD VESSELS are inflamed (called the endothelium or intima) causing white blood cells and platelets and oxidized (inflamed if you will) cholesterol to build up in your arteries making them stiff and non-compliant. This is the cause of HYPERTENSION and, when they burst, HEART ATTACKS. Even when the heart is OK, the small vessels of the BRAIN and other critical areas that depend on small capillaries (e.g. EYES, KIDNEYS, PENIS, BRAIN, etc.) start to show signs of ischemia (lack of oxygen). Memory loss, loss of vision, kidney failure, erectile dysfunction, numb extremities, even CANCER.
If you have any signs or symptoms of inflammation like arthritis, macular degeneration, erectile dysfunction or any of the easily observable issues I mentioned above, try this experiment: START FLOSSING twice daily.
Spend a few bucks to buy 3 or 4 small packs of your favorite floss. I don’t care if they are waxed, unwaxed, flavored or unflavored. Yes there are some flosses that are better than others and some work better depending on how much bridgework, fillings, crowns, etc. that you have installed and how much tartar builds up when you don’t floss [the waxed kind].
So, back to the “EXPERIMENT“: Do this regular flossing at least twice a day. At first, don’t worry that it’s not exactly always after you eat … as Nike says, “Just do it!”. Then, in a few weeks or a couple of months (everybody will have different response times) check in with yourself. How’s your arthritis? If you had swollen nodules on your fingers, have they gotten smaller? Do they ache less? Are they completely pain free? Do your gums look less inflamed? Does your face (especially nose and cheeks) look less inflamed/red? Has your CRP or homocysteine or fibrinogen levels gone down (you would know this if you had a previous level and then had your doctor re-check it after you began this experiment)?
Chances are that IF you were even close to diligent on the brushing and flossing, you are going to notice a difference in your level of inflammation. Now you can choose: A) Do I want to be pain and inflammation free and live longer? or B) Do I want to go back to my previous habits and take my chances with cancer, Alzheimers, heart attack, erectile dysfunction, diabetes, arthritis, etc.?
Just a lifestyle decision. No one will know what you have decided. Your doctor may not even connect the dots and ask you if you are flossing. It’s that easy.
Once you have made this decision, you may want to “tune up” your mouth to reap even more benefit. If so, I have some suggestions:
A) Take a probiotic daily. Once in a while, empty a capsule onto your toothbrush (no toothpaste) and brush your teeth with the probiotic powder [Shown: Ultimate FloraMax 200 Billion CFU and OrthoBiotic w/S. boulardii];
20 Billion CFU
B) Brush your teeth with a good, natural toothpaste that doesn’t contain fluoride (fluoride is bad for your thyroid), doesn’t have a lot of abrasives and doesn’t contain foaming agents like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and hormone disrupters like methylparaben, propylparaben and polyethylene glycol (PEG). A good choice is PerioBrite Toothpaste, Spry (contains xylitol which I’ll explain at another juncture as to its benefits);
C) Clean your tongue with a tongue scraper;
D) Start taking a good dose of Co-Q 10 (ubiquinone)or, better, reduced Co-Q 10 (ubiquiNOL) 100 mg to 400 mg daily in 2 divided doses taken with meals [NOTE: Some good toothpastes actually contain Co Q-10!]
E) Start to take a good dose of vitamin C (~ 1000 mg 3X per day) … PureWay makes a fat soluble vitamin C that stays in the body longer than the usual, water-soluble vitamin C … and take a vit C that contains bioflavonoids like rutin and hesperidin;
F) Take Zinc picolinate that contains 30 to 50 mg. of elemental zinc daily;
G) buy a good gum gel [like PerioRub by Nature’s Answer] and apply it after brushing at night as you lay down for sleep or reading and let it set on the gums (both inside and outside gums) for as long as you can. I even suggest that you floss WHILE the gum gel is in place so the floss can carry the gel into those hard-to-reach areas of the gum between the teeth.
In conclusion – If you do this experiment, get results that you can feel and decide to take better care of your gums (and your life) I applaud you! If you take it to the next level and do some of the 6 or 7 things I mentioned in the previous paragraph, you will probably start to notice more profound changes in your health … digestion gets better, you experience less shortness of breath, bowel habits improve, you have more energy, etc. Then you are on the road to realizing the potential of integrative pharmacy and integrative or functional medicine: Getting to the core problems and fixing them This is where health lives.