Health

Friday 19 September 2014

Good oral hygiene may reduce risk of clots and heart disease

In the famous Shakespearean drama, As You Like It, Melancholy Jacques describes the seven ages of man. It begins as an infant, "Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms" and ends in "second childishness and mere oblivion, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything".

Losing your teeth will certainly make you look older, but there is now compelling evidence that the impact of oral hygiene goes far deeper than that. One very good reason for regular tooth brushing and flossing is that it will keep your teeth in good condition for longer. In particular, flossing, by getting rid of plaque, reduces the risk of chronic inflammation that leads to gingivitis, inflammation of the gums.

It has been known for some time that if bacteria from chronically inflamed gums get into your blood stream, they can combine with platelets in the blood to create blood clots. These may, in turn, increase your risk of having a heart attack.

Now there's another reason to floss, and that is a link between tooth loss and dementia. In a recent study done at the University of Kentucky, researchers did a word-recall test on a group of elderly nuns aged between 75 and 90. The nuns, who had similar education and diet, were asked to recall as many words as possible from a list of 10 that they had been told a few minutes earlier. This test, when done over a number of years, is regarded as a good predictor of dementia.

What they found is the nuns with the least number of teeth did worst in the initial test and their scores declined faster over the next few years. The researchers weren't sure why but they suggested that chronic inflammation associated with gum disease was the most plausible explanation. That is certainly enough to get me reaching for the nylon.

Dr Michael Mosley, creator of the 5/2 diet

Sunday Indo Living

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