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How Flossing Is Linked to Overall Health

How Flossing Is Linked to Overall Health

Daily flossing helps prevent heart disease, diabetes, and even erectile dysfunction.

Julia Roberts’s radiant smile melts hearts (Richard Gere’s in Pretty Woman); a deep space Ferengi's snaggle-toothed grin breaks hearts (the Grand Nagus in Star Trek); and King Kong’s breathy grimace is not for the faint of heart (though Naomi Watts swoons).

Turns out your smile tells the world a lot about you -- not just your dental health, but your overall health, too. If you neglect your gums and pearly whites, heart problems, diabetes, and (guys!) even erectile dysfunction may not be far behind. (Here's another easy way to prevent erectile dysfunction.)

What's the link? If you don’t regularly brush and floss, tartar builds up on your teeth and irritates your gums. This bacteria-loving tartar turns to plaque, triggering body-wide inflammation. Next, LDL cholesterol-related plaque builds up in your arteries -- doubling your risk of heart disease.

Preventing gum disease is key to a healthier life and a younger RealAge, so brush for 2 minutes at least twice a day, and floss daily. Here's how to floss:

  • Slide the floss under your gum line and gently curl it around each tooth. Gums bleeding? Keep flossing. It will make them stronger.
  • Each time you insert the floss between teeth, make sure to use a fresh part of the floss.
  • Find it hard to floss? Get dental-floss picks or holders.

Remember to augment your at-home dental care with a visit to a dentist every 6 months (or as recommended by your dentist). Yes, it's that important. With just a little effort, your smile can be a beautiful reflection of your overall health.

Inspect your smile to keep your mouth and body healthy.

Medically reviewed in June 2019.

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