Flossing adds years to your life

Research shows that flossing can add up to 6 years to your life. Why? Well, it keeps your immune system in good shape - because the same bacteria that causes gum disease can lead to inflammation in your arteries, and cause heart disease. So if you get rid of mouth bacteria, you’ll help keep your whole body healthy.

Here are a couple of quick tips on how to floss properly:

1. First, take your time. Brush (preferably with an electric toothbrush) for two minutes, and then floss for three.

2. When you’re flossing, get as far under gum tissue as possible until you meet resistance. Then move the floss slowly up and down, kind of like you're polishing a shoe.

3. A clean tooth should feel squeaky clean. A tooth with plaque on it feels slippery.

4. Avoid “snapping and popping”. These movements only dislodge the food particles wedged between your teeth. They don’t get rid of the bacteria.

5. If you are not sure how to floss properly then the next time you go to the dentist ask your dental hygienist how to floss properly

Michael F. Roizen, MD. has a section on dental health in his book "RealAge." He writes, "studies show that the presence of periodontal diseases, diseases most common in people with tooth loss, actually affects longevity. The best of these studies done at Emory University with the Centers for Disease Control, indicated that people with gingivitis and periodontitis have a mortality rate that is 23 percent to 46 percent higher than those who don't... why? They are linked to increased rates of cardiovascular disease and stroke, as well as to an increase in mortality from other causes, such as infections.

The book also states, "Flossing your teeth daily can make your arteries younger. The probable reason: Flossing helps keep your immune system young... the same bacteria that cause periodontal disease also trigger an immune response, inflammation, that causes the arteries to swell. The swelling of the arterial walls results in a constriction of blood flow that can lead to a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease. Other studies have shown that periodontal disease leads to a higher white blood cell count, which is an indicator that the immune system is under increased stress.... Poor oral hygiene and particularly increased tooth loss are important indicators of your risk. The fewer teeth you have, the greater your risk of gum infections."

Incidentally, according to Dr. Roizen, men who have regular sex in a happy monogamous heterosexual relationship and who eat lots (not overeating) of pizza, marinara sauce, and spaghetti can add an additional 5 years to their lives... just floss after eating, and don't smoke after sex. Perhaps the benefit of the pizza and marinara sauce was the lycopene in the tomato sauce.

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