I've been saying it for years...
Inflammation is the root cause of many diseases. It increases your risk of heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, and it accelerates aging. Now there's another connection...
A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances suggests that a gum infection could cause Alzheimer's disease. According to findings, the bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis that breaks down gum tissue in the mouth is linked to dementia and Alzheimer's.
Researchers studied the bacteria in Alzheimer's patients, as well as conducting tests on mice, and discovered that gum infections led to an increased production of amyloid beta, a part of the amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease.
There's a simple and inexpensive way to greatly reduce your chances of getting periodontal disease (gum infection): floss your teeth every night.
I know what you're thinking... flossing is terrible. If you've ever lied about flossing to your dentist, you aren't alone.
But flossing is vital to our overall health.
Flossing removes the plaque buildup in your gums that brushing can't reach. You should make a C shape on each side of your tooth to scrape away all that bacteria. Some types of bad bacteria actually pry open spaces in our gums and get into our bloodstream. And some even travel along our nerves, causing jaw pain.
It's even more important to floss as we age. That's because our gums recede naturally over time, leaving us more vulnerable to gum disease.
More than half of Americans don't floss regularly, and about 20% don't do it all. Yet, our dentists nag us about it, and most of us know it's instrumental in having healthy gums. So why don't people floss?
Some say they don't have time, or it's hard for them to do it. But flossing takes just a few minutes, and its health benefits make it worth it. Some older folks with arthritis or dexterity issues from a stroke could have trouble maneuvering the thin piece of floss. But there are lots of products out there, like the Y-shaped floss picks, that can make the process much easier.
But the most common reason dentists hear from patients who don't floss is "my gums bleed and it hurts when I do it." Healthy gums don't bleed from flossing, so if yours do, you should be flossing more, not less. The more you do it, the easier it will get.
There's another method for removing plaque buildup between your teeth: water flossing, or using a specialized device called a water pick. Water picks direct a stream of water onto your gums, eliminating food particles and plaque.
Instead of scraping, this technique uses water pressure. Water flossing also massages your gums, promoting good oral health. Water picks are easy to use and can work better than flossing for people with braces or bridgework.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Dentistry compared the efficacy of a water flosser to string floss used in combination with a manual toothbrush. The research discovered that the water pick group had about a 75% reduction in plaque, as compared with the floss participants, who saw a 58% reduction. You can buy a water flosser for about $35 on Amazon.
Today, stop making excuses.
We know that bacteria trigger inflammation. When that turns chronic, it damages our bodies. Worse, that damage leads to a host of issues like diabetes and heart disease.
Knowing about the link between bacteria, inflammation, and the onset of disease, we think taking care of your oral health is critical.
So whichever method you chose, just make sure you floss regularly... Shoot for every day. Your mouth and body will thank you.
What We're Reading...
- Can't smell peanut butter? Alzheimer's may be the culprit.
- The startling link between sugar and Alzheimer's.
- Something different: This animated chart of how the top 15 brands have changed since 2000 is wild.
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
March 26, 2019