Believe it or not, flossing may help prevent or manage heart disease. Researchers are not yet sure why, but patients with gum disease seem to have nearly twice the risk of also having heart disease. Flossing is key to preventing gum disease, or gingivitis.
One theory about the link between heart disease and gum disease is that bacteria from the mouth travels in the bloodstream to the arteries, where it damages the artery lining and contributes to arterial plaque build-up. Plaque is a fatty substance that builds up in arteries and blocks blood flow, causing a heart attack or stroke. Another theory is that bacteria in the mouth contributes to inflammation throughout the body, including the arteries, and thereby causes damage to the arteries and encourages plaque build-up.
Further research may prove one of these theories, or it may find some other explanation. Flossing is necessary for oral health regardless, so know that when you floss, it is possible that you are being kind to your heart and arteries as well. Be sure to work with your physician to monitor your cardiovascular health and see your dentist regularly. Your dentist can also help you learn effective flossing technique.