In today’s dentistry, the focus tends to be on damage control and treatment of the mouth and teeth apart from the rest of the body.
However, traditional Eastern wellness practitioners think of oral health as an integrated part of holistic health and a key feature of longevity. This important distinction led to OJOOK’s emphasis on consistent ritualistic daily oral health habits over quick fixes.
Interestingly, recent research has proven that this seemingly philosophical difference is scientifically supported: there are body-wide effects of oral plaque, with significant implications for heart and brain health.
Read on to learn about how to lower your risk for conditions like stroke, heart attack, and Alzheimer’s disease with a simple daily oral care practice: flossing.
The relationship between poor dental hygiene and heart issues
One sign of gum disease is bleeding while brushing or flossing. It may not be just a minor topical issue of the gum alone as one would think. As strange as it sounds, scientists have repeatedly found connections between heart disease and oral plaque.
When the mouth and gums bleed, it also opens a direct path for plaque and bacteria to enter the bloodstream. Inflamed, bleeding, and irritated gums can allow pathogens to seep into the lymph system when chewing or brushing. From there, they can travel into the venous system, which leads into the left atrium and left ventricle of the heart.
This process can provoke heart disease, a broad set of conditions that includes heart attack and stroke. For example, this 2016 study found that gum disease increases a person’s risk for heart attack by 28%. Gum disease may contribute to increased risk for heart disease because inflammation of the gums can lead to an accumulation of bacteria that causes arteries to narrow. Small blood vessels can be blocked as the result of a buildup of dental plaque. Given that gingivitis (gum disease) affects 75% of adults in the United States, this finding isn’t trivial.
The link between oral plaque and cognitive decline
Heart disease isn’t the only health issue linked with dental plaque. When the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease enter the bloodstream, the liver then releases C-reactive proteins, which cause inflammation.
Research performed at the University of Central Lancashire found that bacterial products of a periodontal pathogen can access the brain. Once there’s an open passage of bacteria and plaque traveling into the body on a daily basis, brain cells release more C-reactive proteins mentioned above that kill neurons, generating symptoms like confusion and memory loss.
Is flossing necessary?
Flossing is the only way to remove food debris as well as plaque, a sticky film that collects around and between the teeth. It is one of the most effective ways to prevent plaque build up, tooth decay, and gum disease.
The truth is that tooth brushing alone is an incomplete way of caring for the teeth. It doesn’t remove plaque from the point of contact between teeth and gums, which is an area especially vulnerable to cavity formation and gum diseases.
While most people see tooth brushing as non-negotiable, few floss every day. Yet without regular flossing, plaque on the gums can accumulate within veins that eventually reach the brain and heart and interfere with their function.
Chemicals that may counteract the benefits of flossing
If you add flossing into your daily routine, avoid polyester or nylon-based plastic dental flosses. These flosses expose you to plastic particles and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS are man-made and known as “forever chemicals.” PFAS are a unique class of chemicals because they’re both attracted to and repelled by water. They’re also in food packaging, cookware, carpets, furniture, and clothing. Once PFAS chemicals enter into our body, they simply won’t go away. There are numerous studies linking exposure to PFAS to kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid diseases, ulcerative colitis and other health issues.
Replace your plastic floss with silk floss. It’s free from plastic particles, PFAS, and phthalates, or endocrine disruptors. Also, silk floss decomposes in as little as 3-6 months. It’s also naturally elastic and soft, making it kind to sensitive gums.
Given what we know about the intricate connections between mouth and overall health, consider trying OJOOK’s Silk Floss. It’s made with 9x roasted Korean bamboo salt as well as ethical beeswax, both of which are naturally anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial while rebalancing mouth pH and the oral microbiome.