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Daily Flossing Can Add 6.4 Years To Your Life

As the Baby Boom generation ages there is more and more concern about the cost of care for the future aged... and, in fact, aging in general. For a generation that swore they would never want to live to be more than 30 this generation is approaching and passing 50 all the while hoping for many more years. Thirty is a distant memory.

Partly to satisfy this concern for such a large part of our citizenry, there are a slew of books, seminars, and tapes about how to stay healthier and live longer. One of the most recent and most interesting is a book by Michael F. Roizen, MD. Dr. Roizen's book is called "RealAge", and the general concept is to calculate how old a person is actually (compared to averages and actuarial tables) based to a great degree upon choices he/she makes about lifestyle, eating, exercise, etc.

In particular, there is a section on dental health, and I quote, "These 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.

On flossing, the book states that, "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."

This is only a small section of the book, but it strengthens our position with our patients on keeping their teeth and participating in better home care.

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.