As your dentist will tell you, flossing is important for maintaining the health of your teeth and mouth, however, it is also very important for maintaining your general health. According to a Harvard Medical School study on longevity conducted in 2002, proper flossing is one of the most important contributing factors to a long life. By flossing properly, you are removing not just food particles, but oral bacteria from your gums and teeth. Removing these bacteria helps prevent serious oral infections such as gingivitis and periodontal disease. These diseases can have significant impact on your health.
Research now links poor gum health (periodontal disease) with various illnesses:
- Heart Disease. Men who have periodontal disease have a 72% greater rate of developing cardiovascular disease. When the oral bacteria are not removed from your gums, it can cause your gums to bleed, allowing an opening for the bacteria to be absorbed into your bloodstream and travel to your organs. When it travels to your heart, it can lead to blood clots and heart disease.
- Respiratory Disease. Although you may only associate your mouth with eating, it also is a direct link to your respiratory system. Oral bacteria are found throughout your mouth, and if not removed, can also find its way into your throat. From here, it can be inhaled into your lower respiratory tract. This can lead to pneumonia, bronchitis, or other respiratory diseases.
- Diabetes. The American Diabetes Association states that gum disease caused by oral bacteria can make diabetes harder to control. The oral bacteria that are absorbed into the blood stream may affect the control over your blood glucose levels, contributing to the disease’s progression at a faster rate.
It may seem that during each tip to your dentist, you are being “pestered” about your flossing habits, but with very good reason. When you floss your teeth regularly, you are removing the bacteria which are always present on your teeth and under your gum line. These are the harmful bacteria associated with gingivitis, periodontal disease, and possibly serious other health risks. The addition of flossing to your daily oral care routine will not only make your mouth healthier, but your body as well.