But when we stretch the discussion to whether regular flossing can lower our risk of whole-body issues, like a heart attack, the link between the two topics can get a bit fuzzy.
After all, where’s the connection between our mouths and our hearts anyway?
As you’ll see by the end of our discussion, having a healthy mouth is a great start towards having a healthy body.
Understanding the mouth/body connection…
In 2006, a team of researchers–led by Dr. Steven R. Gundry of the International Heart and Lung Institute in Palm Springs, California–did a study on 300 people who had a moderate risk of heart disease.
In this study, researchers determined if the participants were at risk for heart disease by measuring a common biomarker called C-reactive protein (CRP).
CRP is a component of our blood that responds to the level of inflammation in the body.
Doctors and researchers have found that CRP provides a better gauge for measuring heart disease risk than other common markers, like blood cholesterol levels.
In the study, the researchers decided to only test for what they called ‘lifestyle modification’.
The participants were simply asked to floss their teeth at least every other day.
In other words, researchers didn’t ask participants to change the foods they ate or the amount of exercise they did; they just asked them to floss at least every other day.
After 6 months, all 300 people had their C-reactive protein levels tested again.
The CRP levels for all 300 participants had dropped below the threshold that made them ‘at risk’ for heart disease!
While that fact alone is awesome, the researchers then took another step that wound up giving the world an important piece of information.
Researchers instructed the participants to stop flossing.
And when the participant CRP levels were tested again, guess what?
Everyone’s CRP levels had gone back up into the ‘at risk for heart disease’ levels.
It’s all about inflammation…
So, what does this tell us about the mouth’s role in the creation or destruction of whole-body health?
When the thug bugs implicated with gum disease establish colonies along and under the gum line, the body reacts to this bacterial infection in the same way that it responds to any infection; it increases inflammation to promote a healing response.
But the problem doesn’t stay in the mouth…
After as little as 9 days from exposure, the thug bugs can begin to travel throughout the body via the tiny capillaries in the gum tissue.
This is why we talk so much about whether or not your gums bleed when you gently brush and/or floss.
If you have any areas where your gums bleed as you floss, that means that the thug bugs in that pocket have access to the bloodstream.
They can and do swim upstream into the rest of the body.
The unique area of the gum line…
When we have an infection, it triggers our body’s alarms, and the immune system causes an inflammatory cascade in the area. This helps isolate the infection, and it also increases the immune system’s ability to provide backup with white blood cells and other immune system defenders.
But in the case of thug bugs and gum disease, their enemy base camp is located ‘outside’ the reach of the immune system.
Thug bugs colonize inside the gum pockets, that little space between the roots of our teeth and the gum tissue that surrounds each tooth.
In microbiology, the gum pocket is a borderland between two worlds.
So thug bugs gain access to the whole body via capillaries in gum tissue that connect to the bloodstream.
Then once the bugs are in the bloodstream, the body reacts to the widespread infection by causing systemic inflammation, but the inflammatory immune response can’t reach and address the source of the infection (which is hiding in the gum pockets).
This becomes a chronic systemic inflammatory condition, which is the stuff that makes a great platform for heart attacks, strokes, and so many other breakdowns in health.
Why flossing helps so much…
When thug bugs take up residence in the gum line, they try to establish a strong base camp where they can continue to build their numbers to colonize more areas in the mouth.
Flossing does a great job of disrupting and disorganizing the thug bugs and their colonization efforts.
But remember, to really make a difference, regular flossing is crucial. If you only floss occasionally, you’ll only be temporarily disrupting the thug bug attack on the body.
Regular flossing makes it very difficult for thug bugs to establish colonies in and along the gum line.
To support oral (and whole-body) health, it’s important to:
- Floss at least every other day.
- Floss consciously so you notice if you have any areas that bleed.
If you want to supercharge your ability to disrupt and disorganize thug bugs by flossing, check out the flossing tip in this ‘How to Use the HealThy Mouth Blend’ video.
Ready to take your oral health to new highs? Download our FREE ebook today: How to Remineralize Your Teeth
Here are some helpful videos to assist you along your path toward conscious flossing.
Helpful, Related Resources:
How To Stop Tooth Decay and Remineralize Your Teeth [Free eBook]
How to Stop Bleeding Gums in 3 Easy Steps [article]
How to Brush Your Teeth to Reduce Gum Disease [article]
4 steps to stop gum disease from causing an autoimmune disease in your life [article]
4 Reasons Why Brushing is so Important [article]
How to Create Greater Oral Health for the Whole Family [article]
WHY is flossing such a critically important oral hygiene habit? [video tutorial]
How to floss and NOT damage your gums [video tutorial]
How to Maximize Your Benefit Using the HealThy Mouth Blend [video tutorial]
“How long should I brush my teeth?” [article]
Electric vs Manual Brushing, Which is Better? Part 1 [article]