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How does gum disease affect the arteries?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
The surprising truth is that simply flossing your teeth every day can actually make your arteries younger. The probable reason is that flossing helps keep your immune system young by preventing gum and periodontal infections. For example, men under fifty who have advanced periodontal disease are 2.6 times more likely to die prematurely and three times more likely to die from heart disease than those who have healthy teeth and gums. Why would this be?

We don't know the answer for certain, but one theory is that the same bacteria that cause periodontal disease also triggers an immune response that causes inflammation of the arteries. In fact, a strain of bacteria commonly found in tooth plaque has also been found in the fatty deposits that can clog the arteries. Studies have shown that periodontal disease leads to a higher white blood cell count and an increase in C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), both indicators that the immune system is under increased stress.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.