tooth decay

  1. Poor oral hygiene linked to heart risk

    Tooth loss linked to heart disease

    There's a simple tool that can offer you a quick peek at your heart health -- and you're probably just a few feet away from one right now.

    It's a mirror.

    Just stand in front of it, open your mouth, and take a look inside, because oral hygiene and cardiovascular health have a lot in common.

    I know that sounds like folk medicine. But it's been proven by research -- including a new study of nearly 16,000 people in 39 nations that finds a link between missing teeth and the major risk factors for heart disease.

    If you've got one or two missing teeth, you don't have too much to worry about.

    But more than that, and odds are you have higher levels of the enzyme linked to inflammation and hardened arteries.

    The more teeth you're missing, the higher that risk -- and that's not the only potential cardiovascular warning sign. People with missing teeth also tend to have bigger waistlines, higher blood pressure, higher blood sugar, and higher levels of “bad" cholesterol, according to the study of oral hygiene and heart problems.

    Bleeding gums have also been shown to increase the risk of heart disease. And in the new study, bleeding gums were linked to higher levels of bad cholesterol and high blood pressure.

    The common link here is bacteria.

    Many of the same germs responsible for gum diseases and tooth decay can also cause heart problems. And if you've got bleeding gums, those bacteria have direct access to your bloodstream, where they can do serious damage.

    That's why good heart health starts with good oral hygiene. And good oral hygiene is as simple as following these steps:

    Brush & floss: Start with the basics, like brushing after meals and flossing each day. Pass on anything with fluoride, and stick with all-natural toothpastes instead.

    Skip the sugar: The bacteria responsible for oral diseases and heart problems love carbs, especially processed carbs such as refined grains and sugars. To satisfy your sweet tooth without risking a cavity or a heart attack, try xylitol, a natural no-calorie sweetener that can actually kill oral bacteria such as Streptococcus. As a bonus, it can even fight cancer. (Yes, cancer--really! Click here to read all about it.)

    Rinse: Forget fluoride rinses. If you really want to improve your oral hygiene and get fresh breath at the same time, use tea tree oil instead. In addition, a 0.1 percent solution of folic acid can fight gingivitis.

    Supplement boost: Not coincidentally, some of the supplements that are great for the heart are every bit as good for your teeth, gums and overall oral hygiene. The omega-3 fatty acid DHA can protect against periodontal problems such as tooth decay and gum disease, while CoQ10 can protect against gingivitis.

    And if you're looking for something that's both delicious and healthy, try green tea. This cancer-fighting super drink is loaded with polyphenols that can fight the bacteria behind gum disease.

    It's also great for your heart, can help keep cancer away, and may even help you to live longer.

    I'll have more on green tea -- including what just might be its biggest benefit yet -- on Tuesday, so be sure to keep an eye on your inbox.

  2. Coconut oil can kill the germs that cause tooth decay

    Forget fluoride -- try coconut instead

    I have to admit I got a laugh out of a campaign for water fluoridation in Oregon that claims the "benefits" include a 25 percent reduction in tooth decay.

    Are these folks easily impressed or what?

    Twenty-five percent is not worth the risk of thinning bone, discolored teeth, and brain damage, especially since there are much safer and far more effective ways to get rid of tooth decay.

    And now, one new study points to what could be the tastiest cavity-beater yet.

    Coconut oil, one of the healthiest plant oils around, has long been recognized for its antimicrobial and antibacterial powers, especially in the stomach. That's because stomach enzymes break down the fatty acids, and the compound created by this process can kill bacteria.

    The trick is unlocking that power without having to actually swallow the coconut oil first, and researchers accomplished that by treating the coconut oil with enzymes similar to the ones seen in digestion.

    Then, they put this enzyme-treated coconut oil to the test against the Streptococcus bacteria.

    Actually, it wasn't much of a test. The bacteria never really had a chance -- the enzyme-treated coconut oil wiped it out, including the acid-producing Streptococcus mutans strain that builds up inside the mouth and rots teeth.

    The researchers carried out similar experiments with vegetable oil and olive oil, but only the coconut oil killed bacteria.

    And for an encore, the enzyme-treated coconut oil also killed the yeast that causes thrush.

    Of course, there's no way to get your hands on enzyme-treated coconut oil just yet without swallowing the oil yourself, and by then it's too late to expect it to kill off any bacteria clinging to your teeth.

    But this definitely holds promise for toothpaste and mouthwash down the road... as long as they don't ruin it by combining it with fluoride.

  3. Wine may fight cavities

    The polyphenols in red wine can actually slow or stop the process that leads to tooth decay.

3 Item(s)