Michael Hunter, MD on Medika Life

My Must-Do Bedtime Ritual

TURN YOUR NIGHT INTO AN OPPORTUNITY: You can use healthy habits to improve your oral health.

Brush (and floss)! Let me give you three reasons why you should do both. Admittedly, I do not floss each day. I am going to try to do better.

Plaque

Yes, it feels good to get the lingering piece of bread out from between your teeth. But there’s more: Floss, and you remove the invisible, colorless, and sticky film that collects between and around your teeth and your gumline.

Plaque is the product of mixing oral bacteria with sugary or starchy food and drinks. The bacteria release acids that disintegrate carbohydrates. Skip the brushing, and plaque bacteria will turn its acids on the protective enamel of your teeth. And then? The dreaded visit to the dentist to plug a cavity.

Moreover, plaque buildup can turn into hard tartar, collecting along your gumline. Now you have increased your chances of getting gum disease, offers the American Dental Association (ADA).

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Gum disease

Gingivitis is an early gum disease, often marked by gum inflammation. You may notice bleeding as your brush or floss your teeth. If the gingivitis is left untreated, it can turn into periodontitis.

With periodontitis, the gums begin to pull away from your teeth, and the teeth may become loose. Without intervention, periodontitis may cause inflammation throughout your body.

Brush your teeth twice daily, and don’t forget to floss each day. And professional cleanings every six months to optimize your gum health.

Heart health

I became more fastidious about oral health (particularly flossing) when I learned that optimizing it might help my heart. My father died of a heart attack in his 86th year, so my ears always perk up when I hear about heart disease risk reduction.

2019 Korean study reported an association between good oral hygiene and a lower risk of atrial fibrillation and heart failure.

The researchers reported that over a median of 10.5 years, they discovered three percent of subjects had atrial fibrillation, while about five percent got heart failure.

Brushing at least thrice daily appeared associated with a slight reduction (about one-tenth) of atrial fibrillation and heart failure.

I grant that a ten percent drop from five percent is not much (0.5 percent), but brushing and flushing to get that slight absolute reduction is cheap to me (in terms of time and cost). And there is that bonus of fresher smelling breath.

You’ve got three reasons to brush and (I know I can do better) and floss regularly. Thank you for this brief exploration of oral health.

Action point — Floss first

Oh, one more thing: You should floss your teeth before brushing them. With flossing, you dislodge plaques and food particles. The brushing action helps remove the plaque and particles you’ve removed from your teeth and gum line.

PATIENT ADVISORY

Medika Life has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by Medika Life

Michael Hunter, MD
I received an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a medical degree from Yale, and trained in radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. I practice radiation oncology in the Seattle area.

Michael Hunter, MD

I received an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a medical degree from Yale, and trained in radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. I practice radiation oncology in the Seattle area.

Connect with Dr. Hunter

Website

Twitter

All articles, information and publications featured by the author on thees pages remain the property of the author. Creative Commons does not apply and should you wish to syndicate, copy or reproduce, in part or in full, any of the content from this author, please contact Medika directly.