Jun 23rd, 2014 by Pamela Doray, DMD
June is National Men’s Health Month
As you probably know, heart disease is the leading cause of death in men. What you may be surprised to learn, however, is that most systemic disease – including heart disease, hypertension and diabetes – have oral symptoms.
Oral Health is About More Than a Pretty Smile
“Men, as well as women, who suffer from gum disease are two times as likely to suffer from heart disease,” says Philadelphia dentist Dr. Pamela Doray. “There is strong scientific evidence to support the link between oral infections and systemic diseases. It is as important to visit your dentist as it is to visit your doctor. Your dentist can actually help you identify potential health risks and possibly avoid chronic disease or oral cancer.”
Of Mice and Men…
Now, there’s new research from the American Society for Microbiology supporting a causal link between the periodontal disease and heart disease. At the ASM annual conference, researchers presented a preliminary report that showed how mice infected with gum disease displayed increased risk factors for heart disease including inflammation and cholesterol levels.
Scientists have been trying to prove how mouth disease can cause disease elsewhere in the body. Whether it is through brushing, flossing or simply chewing, bacteria from the mouth enters the bloodstream. Plaque that builds up along the teeth can also build up in the arteries and blood vessels. That build up can lead to heart attack and stroke.
Another theory is that oral bacteria in the blood stream causes an immune system response which can weaken the walls of blood vessels or cause blood clots.
Can Visiting The Dentist Lower Your Risk?
A 2011 study from Taiwan suggested that patients who had their teeth professionally cleaned at least once a year lowered their risk of heart attack and stroke. The study followed more than 100,000 participants for an average of seven years and found that patients who had their teeth professionally cleaned had a 24% lower risk of heart attack and 13% lower risk of stroke.
“We have yet to prove a causal relationship, but the evidence is clear that there is a link,” says Dr. Doray. “Without a doubt, you can reduce your health risks by adopting healthy habits, including visiting the dentist.”
How to Prevent Gum Disease:
- Brush teeth for two – three minutes, twice a day
- Floss every day to remove plaque from between teeth
- Visit the dentist at least every 6 months for dental cleanings & exams
- Eat a healthy diet with fresh fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water
- Avoid tobacco products
Healthy Smile Recipes from the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry
Crunchy Chopped Salad
The ingredients in this simple salad help to promote healthy gums and reduce bacteria and inflammation in the mouth.
Celery: activates saliva production which assists in cleansing food particles from the teeth. It also dilutes sugars or acids in the mouth. Chewing celery massages gums.
Onions: contain sulfur compounds that have been show to kill tooth decay causing bacteria.
Basil: is a natural antibiotic, fighting off oral infection and reducing bacteria in the mouth.
- 1 cup of celery, chopped
- ¼ cup red pepper, chopped
- 1 tablespoon onion (red, green or white), finely chopped
- 4 leaves fresh basil, chopped (substitute ¼ teaspoon of dried basil)
- 1 teaspoon honey, to taste (substitute 2 drops stevia)
- 1 teaspoon raspberry vinegar
- 1 teaspoon cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt, to taste
- Fresh ground pepper, to taste
- Combine chopped vegetables and fresh basil in a medium bowl. If using dried basil, keep in separate bowl.
- In a small bowl, combine vinegar, honey, salt, pepper, olive oil and 2 teaspoons of water. Add dried basil if using instead of fresh basil.
- Pour mixture over vegetables and toss to coat. Divide into two equal servings.