What is the link between teeth and heart disease?
As you might already know leading studies worldwide have shown that periodontal disease (gum disease) puts you at a greater risk of heart disease. With around 20% of all adults in Australia suffering from gum disease, it's something that needs to be talked about!
Interview with Dr Luke Cronin, Philips Sonicare Ambassador and Cosmetic Dentist at Cosmetic Dentist at Quality Dental
Question: What message would you like to spread this World Heart Day?
Dr Luke Cronin: Poor oral health can have a significant impact on your heart and other important organs, so effective oral health care is critical for overall health. It may surprise some people to hear that individuals with poor oral health have increased bad bacteria, which can travel through your bloodstream to your stomach and heart, creating serious health repercussions. This World Heart Day we want to remind you of, and strengthen, the link between gum disease and heart disease to reiterate the importance and impact of oral health.
Question: How can we reduce our risk of heart disease with our teeth?
Dr Luke Cronin: Awareness is the first step to reducing your risk of heart disease. One of the biggest factors is the foods we eat and their impact on oral health, and on our bodies as a whole. Eating a healthy, balanced diet, effectively brushing teeth twice a day, and flossing are all key steps in preventing poor oral health. Bad bacteria from gum disease in the mouth can be breathed into the lungs or travel there through the bloodstream. Once there, the bacteria can cause white blood cells (immunity cells) to become less effective resulting in an increased risk to respiratory infections, pneumonia, acute bronchitis and even Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
Question: How can we achieve a healthy smile and a healthy heart?
Dr Luke Cronin: My top tips for effective teeth brushing include:
1. Brush at a 45-degree angle
Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle (downward for your bottom teeth and upward for your top teeth) and by using a gentle circle movement the bristles will clean under the gum line where plaque can reside.
If you have an electric toothbrush, you will only need to hold the brush at a 45-degree angle and move the brush along your top and bottom teeth. At our clinic, we recommend electric toothbrushes including Philips Sonicare DiamondClean that offer several effective cleaning modes.
2. Brush your teeth gently
Brushing harder doesn't mean you will clean your teeth more effectively, in fact, it can even damage your oral health. As long as you reach all areas of your mouth in a gentle manner with the correct technique you'll be able to clean your teeth without damage. Again, invest in a quality brush, ideally an electric brush which you can more easily glide across your teeth for the full two minutes instead of brushing back and forth in a harsh manner.
3. Don't rinse your mouth with water immediately after brushing
Don't rinse immediately after brushing as this will wash away the concentrated fluoride in the remaining toothpaste which will continue to protect your teeth.
4. Brush before meals
Avoid brushing for at least 30 minutes after eating and drinking as most types of foods and drinks can weaken your enamel and brushing too soon will cause further damage. This is particularly important after acidic foods and drinks. Be sure to drink plenty of water after eating and drinking, and if you are in a rush to work or have a set routine, brush your teeth before eating breakfast.
5. Brush your teeth for two minutes
We all know that we need to brush our teeth for two minutes, however, on average a person will only spend 45 seconds brushing their teeth. Try walking around the house or watching television while you brush your teeth, you're more likely to spend the recommend two minutes!
Question: Is it proven than there is a link between periodontal disease and heart disease?
Dr Luke Cronin: Researchers have found that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to have heart disease, and that risk may be even greater for those with high cholesterol. It is suspected by scientists that the link between the two diseases is due to the same bacteria which can be transferred from entering the bloodstream during normal chewing or brushing, contributing to the formation of cardiovascular disease.
Question: What symptoms are associated with periodontal disease?
Dr Luke Cronin: The barrier between the gum and the tooth is critical to protecting the important nerves and blood flow and if the barrier is compromised, infections in the body can occur. It is important to be aware of periodontal disease symptoms as sometimes they can be painless. They may include swollen, red, tender or bleeding gums, gums that receded or move away from the tooth, persistent bad breath or bad taste in mouth, loose teeth, or visible pus surrounding the teeth and gums.
Question: Can you talk about the dangers associated with the increase in at-home teeth whitening products?
Dr Luke Cronin: Teeth whitening is the least invasive, safest and cost-effective way to improve the appearance of your smile. However not all whitening products are created equally and it is important to follow specific instructions of at-home teeth whitening products. Over the counter whitening products contain a lower concentration of the whitening agent than professional products which can lead to over-use to achieve the desired shade of white. As these products can be quite abrasive, this can damage the tooth's enamel. While it is a little more expensive, in-chair teeth whitening treatments, such as Philips Zoom, can achieve up to eight shares lighter in one treatment and are supervised by a dental professional.
Question: How does brushing with charcoal whiten our teeth?
Dr Luke Cronin: We've recently seen the rise of charcoal in facial products but this ingredient doesn't belong anywhere near your teeth. Despite numerous claims by bloggers there is no clinical evidence that activated charcoal does any good for your teeth. In fact, it's unclear if activated charcoal is safe as there are concerns that it may be too abrasive to use on your teeth and gums. My advice is to consult your dentist if you're looking to whiten your teeth, they will advise you on the most appropriate product for you to use, especially if you have concerns about sensitivity. I highly recommend sticking to the approved whitening products on the market.
Question: What option is the best to whiten our teeth?
Dr Luke Cronin: I would highly recommend investing in a professional whitening treatment as it is the most effective and safest way to whitening your teeth. In-chair teeth whitening treatments, such as Philips Zoom which I offer my patients, is a really great option for a professional treatment as it only takes one hour and actually whitens your natural tooth colour up to eight shades lighter in just one treatment. Another plus of this treatment is that you're supervised by a dental professional.
Interview by Brooke Hunter