Take care of your gums, for heart's sake
Infected gums don't just spell danger for your teeth, but your heart too.
According to a study, brushing teeth regularly will potentially cut down risks of atherosclerosis, a leading cause of heart disease.
Scientists have known for some time that a protein associated with inflammation (called CRP) is elevated in people who are at risk of heart disease.
But where's the inflammation coming from? A new research study by Italian and British scientists shows that infected gums may be one place.
Indeed, proper dental hygiene could reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, stroke and heart disease independently of other measures, such as managing cholesterol.
"It has been long suspected that atherosclerosis is an inflammatory process, and that periodontal disease plays a role in atherosclerosis," said Mario Clerici, a senior researcher, according to FASEB release.
"Our study suggests that this is the case, and indicates that something as simple as taking good care of your teeth and gums can greatly reduce your risk of developing serious diseases," he added.
Scientists examined the carotid arteries of 35 otherwise healthy people (median age 46) with mild to moderate periodontal disease before and after having their periodontal disease treated.
One year after treatment, the scientists observed a reduction in oral bacteria, immune inflammation and the thickening of the blood vessels associated with atherosclerosis.
"Because many Americans have some form of gum disease, this research can't be brushed aside," said Gerald Weissmann, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal(Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal), which also published the study online.