Dental Health

Flossing and Heart Disease

Over the years, I’d watch my dad floss away at his teeth, pausing to recheck if he’d missed a spot. I would always wonder how he had the patience to painstakingly clean every nook and cranny. Now, I know why. I used to take my teeth for granted, brushing once a day and not caring about the twice-a-day rule. Today, I know better.

Brushing is a great way to get rid of bits of food caught between one’s teeth. Flossing, on the other hand, gets rid of tiny food particles in areas that a brush cannot possibly reach, especially the gums between the gaps of your teeth. Your overall dental health and general upkeep, depend on flossing to stay safe.

Types of Flossing Options

There are three commonly used kinds of floss: a floss pick, floss threader, and an ergonomic flosser. Each one serves a similar purpose, but with different results. The first kind comes in two shapes: F-shaped and Y-shaped. These two kinds allow you to grip the tapered handle of the flosser like how you would a toothbrush, allowing better, controlled movement.

Floss threaders come with a looped nylon strand and are usually bought by those who have dental fixtures like braces, to make flossing easier. An ergonomic flosser is a battery-operated variety that uses a swiveling floss head and the power of flexibility to clean teeth from the front and back; this kind is meant for people who tire from flossing, or those who wish for a simpler experience. Do not substitute floss with toothpicks or your fingernails; these can cause severe damage in the long haul.

Effects of Not Flossing

When one doesn’t floss, there are many gum diseases that can subsequently take place. Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) is a major oral problem; if not treated in time, it can lead to a more severe gum disease called periodontitis (periodontal disease). This is when gums shrink away from the teeth, forming ‘pockets’ of infection. Plaque forms below the gum line, as the body tries to fend off the multiplying bacteria. Breaking down the bones and connective tissue that hold the teeth in place, is a result of the body’s response to the infection and toxins. If left untreated, the whole mouth starts to deteriorate, starting with the gums, then tissue, and finally, the bone. Teeth are eventually extracted. The symptoms include:

  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Bad breath
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Pain while eating
  • Loose teeth
  • Receding gums (teeth look more prominent)
  • Red or swollen gums

Correlation between Flossing and Heart Disease

Once the swelling starts to get out of hand from periodontitis, it causes problems that reach the heart. Due to the mouth’s state, inflammation can take place in any part of the body, releasing a large number of ‘mediators’ (chemicals) that cause an inflammation in the heart. This is because the bacteria in the mouth pile into the bloodstream through the infected gums, meshing with platelets in the blood that result in blood clots. The possibility of suffering from a heart attack, increases. The other problems that arise from gum disease:

  • Ventilator-associated pneumonia
  • The effectiveness of insulin is hindered for those suffering from type 2 diabetes
  • Bone damage
  • Dementia (older people)
  • Chronic periodontitis
  • Aggressive periodontitis

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