Depending on who you ask, longevity can be ascribed to good genes or simple luck. However, there is a middle way that is closer to the truth – making healthy lifestyle decisions. Research has shown the extent to which people are at the steering wheel. This is because the big killers, such as cancer and heart disease, are to varying extents modifiable if you commit to a healthy lifestyle. What’s more, even seemingly insignificant decisions can determine the course of your life.
The key finding of a study published in the Journal of Periodontal is that use of floss and interdental brushes is associated with lower risk for new cardiovascular events among patients with coronary heart disease.
Interdental brushes have small bristled heads designed to clean between your teeth, and they come in different widths to suit the sizes of the gaps.
Periodontitis – a severe gum infection – has been found to be associated with coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke.
This led researchers to wonder whether improving oral care habits correlated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular events.
A total of 942 inpatients with coronary heart disease (CHD) were examined for periodontitis and all had their oral care habits assessed.
The researchers found that patients who reported practicing interdental cleaning were younger, less likely to be male or to have severe periodontitis, had a reduced tobacco exposure, had fewer missing teeth, less indices for plaque and bleeding on probing and a significant decreased adjusted risk for new cardiovascular events than those patients with CHD who did not report practicing interdental cleaning.
“These findings suggest that flossing and brushing of interdental spaces might reduce the risk for new cardiovascular events among patients with CHD,” wrote the researchers.
They concluded: “The hypothesis that interdental cleaning per se reduces the risk of new cardiovascular events should be examined in an interventional study.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, studies have also shown:
- Poor dental health increases the risk of a bacterial infection in the blood stream, which can affect the heart valves. Oral health may be particularly important if you have artificial heart valves.
- Tooth loss patterns are connected to coronary artery disease.
- There is a strong connection between diabetes and cardiovascular disease and evidence that people with diabetes benefit from periodontal treatment.
Important oral health tips
According to the NHS, you should brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
“Plaque is a film of bacteria that coats your teeth if you don’t brush them properly. It contributes to gum disease and tooth decay,” warns the health body.
According to the health body, you should also floss or use an interdental brush every day to remove food, debris and plaque lodged between your teeth.
“Replace your toothbrush every three months or sooner if bristles are splayed or worn,” advises the Mayo Clinic.
You should also schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings, says the health body.
“Also, contact your dentist as soon as an oral health problem arises.”
Other key oral tips include:
- Use mouthwash to remove food particles left after brushing and flossing.
- Eat a healthy diet and limit food with added sugars.
- Avoid tobacco use.