A headline in the press embargo briefing for this week’s  Journal of The American Medical Association ( JAMA) reminded me of the opening statement  in the chapter “The Science of Diagnostics” in our new book, AgeProof: Living Longer Without Running Out of Money or Breaking A Hip: “Your morning is a whirlwind. You wash your face, fix your hair, brush your teeth for two minutes after flossing, which you do after a 20-second brushing of your teeth (at least that’s how you should be doing it, while you practice balancing on one foot)”.  The headline in the JAMA embargoed press briefing that triggered this memory of the importance of preventing “gum” disease to being AgeProof: “women who prevent gum disease have less than half the risk of stroke of those with periodontal disease.”   So I want to talk about those important subjects that were triggered by this new article. 
 
That article triggered another memory of an interview on “The YOU The Owner’s Manual” weekly Best Med News Podcasts I did with the doc who first (in the 1980’s) stressed the importance of inflammation to heart and vascular disease (and stroke). That doc is Charlie Hennekens; we talked about a toothpaste that can save your life.  It was my favorite interview of the year 2016, and highlighted an article in the American Journal of Medicine. It was my favorite because it was with a giant of medicine; he gave listeners the medical background on inflammation in a really understandable way, and most importantly gave an easy to implement action step anyone could take to decrease aging and disease while you do something they normally do (brush your teeth).  The only change would be which toothpaste you use, and how fast that toothpaste ingredient makes it into all or many toothpaste brands.  (You can find all—as of this week, 836 weekly, “YOU” podcasts we’ve done so far archived at RadioMD.com—this one actually was so long we divided it into two, #814 and #816). First let’s summarize this JAMA article and the concept—periodontal disease causes considerable inflammation in the rest of your body.  That inflammation increases your risk of dying of strokes and developing inflammation in your brain, causing mental dysfunction, even if no formal stroke occurs.  Let me explain more about inflammation as Dr Hennekens explained it to me.
 
Inflammation, by definition, isn’t a bad thing, he said. In fact, it’s a really good thing. When your body is injured, inflammation is part of your immune response—that is, your body’s healing mechanisms (like white blood cells) rush to an injured area to help repair it. When you get an infection, inflammation caused by the bacteria or viruses calls forth your immune cells, which attack those nasty bacteria and viruses. And then your immune cells commit suicide so they don’t keep attacking and destroying your own cells or organs. So in these cases when you’re injured, we want your body to act that way.
 
The problem occurs when acute inflammation (as is the case when healing an injury, whether internal or external) turns to chronic inflammation—that is, the immune response doesn’t shut off, and the immune cells don’t commit suicide. And when all of those cells go into fight and can’t turn off, that’s where you get swelling, pain, compromised organs and systems, and many processes that cause or contribute to other diseases and conditions, including autoimmune diseases.  So what causes inflammation? All kinds of things—such as certain foods, smoking, stress, and obesity, and especially low levels of chronic infections. And the most common of these in humans is periodontal disease.
 
You may not “feel” this kind of internal, chronic inflammation per se (though it can be manifested through pain and conditions like arthritis). But make no mistake: Chronic inflammation—because it’s so pervasive and is linked to many health problems, from heart disease to cancer—may just be the largest biological enemy you have. So as Dr Hennekens reported in the 1980’s and now is well established, inflammation is intimately involved in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and is reflected in your blood by high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP).
 
Another new study sheds light on how the presence of Streptococcus mutans, a cavity-causing bacteria, may increase your risk of hemorrhagic stroke.  Professional cleanings can reduce not only bacteria but also harmful inflammation, which may also contribute to the risk of the other type of strokes (ischemic or those associate with decreased blood flow) and brain dysfunction. 
As to the toothpaste, the study titled, “Randomized Trial of Plaque Identifying Toothpaste: Dental Plaque and Inflammation,” found that Plaque HD®, a plaque identifying toothpaste, significantly reduced dental plaque in the mouth and inflammation throughout the entire body. 
 
Because it was a small study for a small time period it needs repeating and much longer study period. Only 61 healthy subjects aged 19 to 44 years were randomized to use either Plaque HD® (n=31) or placebo (n=30) for 60 days. People who used Plaque HD® significantly reduced dental plaque when compared with the placebo toothpaste and had a significantly reduced hs-CRP (a measure of inflammation in your body) when compared with the placebo toothpaste.
 
So the action steps from today’s blog are to
 
  • Floss and brush daily; see a dental professional regularly.
  • Try standing on one leg (right on even days, left on odd days) while flossing if you have a spotter or a place where you cannot fall
  • Look for more data on Plaque HD toothpaste
Thanks for reading. Feel free to send questions—to ageprooflife@gmail.com, and some of them we may know enough to answer (we’ll try to get answers for you if we do not know).
                                                             Young Dr Mike Roizen (aka, The Enforcer)

PS Guess who is in the kitchen with me