Oral Health is Natural Heart Disease Prevention

mmoran
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Posted: Jun 30, 2017 6:00 AM
Recent research has found that people with gum disease face nearly double the risk of developing heart disease.  So keeping your teeth and gums in good shape is about a lot more than a bright smile and clean breath. 
Good, preventive oral hygiene can truly be a lifesaver. This is a big deal.  More than 85 million Americans have some form of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and more than 200 million people—of an estimated 242 million American adults—have some form of gum or mouth disease. That’s way more than half of our adult population—facing greater risks than we previously thought.

Inflammation: the link between periodontal disease and heart disease

Bacteria found in infected gum tissue around teeth break down the barrier between the gums and the underlying connective tissue, causing inflammation. When we chew or brush normally, these same bacteria can enter the bloodstream and move all throughout the circulatory system.  As a consequence, you find bacteria and inflammation in cardiovascular arteries, along with arterial plaque. It’s as if inflammation is infectious—it can be passed from one site to another.

Are you at risk?

Given the alarming numbers I’ve cited, it’s not unlikely that you have some form of periodontal disease. The American Academy of Periodontology lists the signs of periodontal disease as the following:
  • Red, swollen, or tender gums or other pain in the mouth
  • Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating hard food
  • Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth, causing the teeth to look longer than before
  • Loose or separating teeth
  • Pus between the gums and teeth
  • Sores in the mouth
  • Persistent bad breath
  • A change in the way the teeth fit together when one bites down
  • A change in the fit of partial dentures
If you have any symptoms, of course, let your doctor know.  If he or she is on the ball, you’ll probably soon undergo the gold standard screening test for inflammation—of any type, anywhere in your body. Don’t worry, it’s the easiest test ever.

What is C-Reactive Protein (CRP) screening?

CRP is a vital part of our immune system. It’s released into the blood from the liver as part of our body’s protective response to injury, inflammation, or infection.  Talk about a rapid responder—CRP levels can increase up to 1,000 times within 24 to 48 hours of an infection or trauma. It’s already known that high CRP levels are associated with stroke, CVD, peripheral arterial disease, and type 2 diabetes. We can now add periodontal disease to that list. The good news is that it’s just a simple blood test—no prepping needed, not even fasting. You can even get a screening test to use in your home. If your CRP levels are high, you should work with your doctor to take corrective and preventive action. But, before you go mouthwash shopping…

A mouthful of wrong

When you see a marketing claim like “kills 99.9 % of the bacteria that cause bad breath,” don’t swallow it. As you know, our health depends on an infinite array of “good” bacteria, without which we’d be perpetually ill or perpetually dead. Most of the time you hear about its residence in the gut…but your mouth is a host to billions of beneficial bacteria as well. When a mouthwash goes on a killing spree, it makes no distinctions.  Our vital good bacteria go down with the ship.  That’s because the leading mouthwashes are little more than alcohols. These cause a drying effect in the mouth—that burning sensation we mistakenly believe is “healthy.” Please believe instead that it’s “deadly.”  And remind yourself that an increased probability of having oral cancer awaits down that road. While alcohol takes top honors as worst threat, it’s not the only ingredient you want to avoid. Here are some of the known or suspected carcinogens used in some mouthwashes, for example:
  • FD&C Red No. 40, FD&C Blue No. 1
  • Sorbitol
  • Poloxamer 407
  • Disodium phosphate
  • Sucralose
It’s a partial list…get the idea?

Your mouth is a filter

Your mouth isn’t just some kind of scaffolding or frame that holds your tongue and teeth. It’s a sensitive organ that guards against ingesting toxins—we usually know instantly when something tastes “off. This is especially important when you first wake up.  Toxins have been building up in your mouth while you sleep.  That’s why we have expressions like “My mouth feels like a cat slept in it.” And given the link we now know exists between oral health and CVD, that’s why proper cleansing—not mass murder by mouthwash—is essential.  That includes, of course, brushing and flossing after every meal, with toothpaste containing no sugar—or better still, a home-made toothpaste using baking soda and water.

Ancient wisdom rules again

India’s centuries-old Ayurvedic health practices appreciate the role of the mouth.  In a process called “oil pulling,” you swish a tablespoon of healthy oil around in your mouth and between your teeth for a minimum 5 minutes first thing in the morning and at bedtime.  Almost any plant-based oil will do—avocado, sesame, olive, or the often-preferred coconut. The anti-fungal and anti-viral properties of the oils “pull” toxins out of your mouth and gums.  I know, 5 minutes (serious practitioners insist on 20) seems like a really long time, especially compared to the 30 seconds the mouthwash marketers recommend. But you get used to it, and enjoy a uniquely clean mouth feel when you’re done. And your heart will thank you for it. (Be sure you don’t gargle or swallow the oil.  That can put those pulled-out toxins back inside you.)
Colloidal silver is another ancient remedy with a fascinating history. From Greek and Roman times up into the 1930s, when antibiotics showed up and stole the show, it was an all-purpose healer.  Starting then, and continuing now, Big Pharma’s heavy hand has sidelined it as a dangerous threat. But it remains a safe, multi-tasking, antibacterial killer—even when it comes to superbugs like MRSA. You can buy a colloidal silver solution to swish in your mouth for 3–5 minutes once a day for general health, and up to 4 times a day if you have a periodontal disease or infection. You can also swish a half-teaspoon of baking soda in half a glass of warm water morning and night.  As an alkaline solution, it neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and acidic drinks such as sodas and coffee. Finally, as so many of my patients deal with, or are at risk for, some kind of inflammation, I recommend to all of them, and to you, every day:
  • 200mg Omega-3
  • 500mg curcumin
Note that with these two famously anti-inflammatory supplements, you don’t have to follow directives to take one in the AM, one around lunch and one at night.  These are food products—take them when you want, as long as you hit the recommended dosage. Take good care.

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