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Charlton Dental Associates | Newsletter in Sandy Lake

Charlton Dental Associates

390 Park Ave.
Meadville, PA 16335 

(814) 724-6890

3242 South Main Street
Sandy Lake, PA 16145

(724) 376-7161


AGD Member


Bugs, Gums and Blood Vessels

So I was watching the Today Show recently and Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, and the weather guy were talking about a recent survey.  This was just “a news filler” but I found it interesting.  One of the survey questions was about when people tell a lie the most often.  It turns out according to this survey the place where people lie most often is at the dental office!  When the hygienist or dentist asks most individuals if they floss, apparently most of us lie.  The news celebrities seemed to get a chuckle out of this and Savannah admitted right off that she is among those who tell a little lie when quizzed by her hygienist.  Matt Lauer immediately stood his ground, “I don’t lie when they ask me if I floss, but I do exaggerate when they ask how often I floss.”  Another big laugh from the crew followed, but there is reason to pay attention to your oral hygiene.  The bacteria or bugs that cause gum disease can contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease.  I realize too many people don’t think flossing to have healthier gums is important, but flossing to help prevent a heart attack may be a different story!

A recent article in one of my dental magazines had the title “Bugs, Gums, and Blood Vessels” and I thought I’d “borrow” it for this newsletter.  For some time the relationship between gum disease and heart disease has been making the health news.  Years ago researchers determined that individuals with severe gum disease were more likely to have the common cardio-vascular problem of atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries.  If you haven’t read it somewhere or heard it in my office, it is a relationship that is worthwhile googling to get some real information.


FYI: currently the Center of Disease Control reports heart disease is ranked the #1 cause of death in the United States with an average of 193 deaths for every 100,000 of population annually.  Estimates of the adults affected by some form of gum disease are about 75%.  The severe forms of the disease infect 30% of the adults in the United States. Think about it, almost everyone has a little gum disease and the germs in that disease are promoting trouble for their hearts and blood vessels.

The way that the germs which cause gum disease can damage the blood vessels is a little complicated.  Basically, these bugs cause the natural defense system of the body to work less effectively, and therefore allow the bacteria to grow rampantly. The levels get high enough and the germs enter the blood stream.  Once in the blood, the bacteria change the body’s ability to get rid of the atherosclerotic plaque that builds up on the walls of the blood vessels.  The heavier the plaque build up in the blood vessels the more likely one is to have some sort of heart attack or stroke.  It’s a domino effect starting with not ridding the mouth of germs, a build up of germs in the mouth at the gums, germs getting into the blood, and then those same germs causing atherosclerotic plaque build up which leads to heart disease.  Now medical doctors has long been able to do bypass surgery or place stents to “deal with” the plaque build up, but controlling gum disease is more pro-active and a heck of a lot less invasive! 

So back to the morning news folks … if Matt Lauer would just floss more and exaggerate less his chance of developing cardiovascular disease would be greatly reduced.  The simple truth is that flossing reduces the number of bugs around the gums.  The long-term effect is a healthier heart and blood vessels. 



Sandy Lake Dentist | Newsletter. Dennis Charlton is a Sandy Lake Dentist.