Lower your risk of heart disease: Brush your teeth
BY MICHAEL ROIZEN, M.D., AND MEHMET OZ, M.D.
The YOU Docs
“What’s better than walking out of the dentist’s office with a mega-watt smile, the slick feel of just-polished teeth, a free toothbrush and knowing that’s over? How about a 33 percent drop in your risk for a heart attack or stroke?
“You read that right. Dentists and cardiologists have long known that neglecting your pearly whites leads to more than a tight-lipped grin in your high-school reunion photo. It also kicks up trouble in your arteries. The same gunky dental plaque — a gooey mix of bacteria, saliva and microscopic bits of yesterday’s tuna sandwich — that sticks to your teeth, causing gum disease, also ratchets up body-wide inflammation. And that encourages a different kind of plaque, the artery-clogging kind that can hurl a blood clot at your heart or your brain.
“Now there’s finally pretty dramatic proof that battling dental plaque protects your ticker and little gray cells. In a new study, women who’d seen a dentist in the previous two years were at least one-third less likely to have a heart attack, stroke, chest pain or congestive heart failure. (Dental care didn’t seem to protect men’s hearts, which leads researchers to think that either gum disease is especially risky for women or that men were just too far gone.)
“The tooth plan that’s best for your arteries? Brush (two minutes) and floss daily to keep dental plaque from moving in. Be on the lookout for early signs of gum disease (gingivitis): puffy, red, tender gums. And date your dentist regularly, every six months or so.”
The YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz and Mike Roizen, are authors of “YOU: On a Diet.” Want more? See “The Dr. Oz Show” on TV (check local listings). To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com.