Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"Toothbrushes Trump Seat Belts"

 As important as seat belts are as a preventative measure, toothbrushes have a far greater impact on the health and longevity of the American public.

According to NHTSA, seat belts save over 13,000 lives a year, nationwide. While few of our patients die from a car crash, many will succumb to heart attack or cancer.  Periodontal disease is a significant risk factor for heart attack, stroke, low- birthweight infants and some forms of cancer.  Estimates are that about 80% of American adults suffer either from gingvitis or periodontal disease.  Using a tooth brush and eliminating periodontal disease reduces the chances of sufferring from these life altering medical conditions.

The Oral Systemic connection has long been an established fact but it has recently been relabeled "The Theory of Focal Infection"  The bacteria  originating in mouth enter the blood stream and infect the blood vessel walls of the heart.. Bacterial products in the blood can also stimulate liver production  of C-reactive protein and fibrinogen, both directly linked to heart attacks.

Although periodontal disease is one amongst the many other risk factors like smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol ,stress,  lack of exercise &  genetics, the combination of these factors add layer upon layer of increased risk of suffering a heart attack.  Periodontal disease is an important risk factor for strokes. Periodontal disease increases the likelihood of a heart attack by 24-35%.

In a recent study, a direct correlation between the amount of periodontal bacteria present and blood pressure has been established.

Totally wiping out periodontal disease will eliminate 158,000 heart attacks, nearly half of which are fatal.  Add to that the thousands of lives that would be saved by reducing cancers, controlling diabetes, preamature births etc- from a public health point of view, tooth brushes save more lives than seat belts!!!

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