Can Flossing Help You Live Longer?
Good dental health is an important part of overall health—and may have direct effect on the heart and cardiovascular system. A study published recently in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggests that gum disease, which affects almost two-thirds of adults over the age of 60, is associated with an increased risk of earlier death in older women.
The study, which was conducted over seven years, involved more than 57,000 women 55 and older. Over the course of the study, more than 3,800 women died—3,589 of them from heart disease. According to researchers, gum disease was associated with a twelve percent higher risk of death from any cause and women with the poorest dental health—those who lost a significant number of teeth during the study—had more heart disease risk factors and a seventeen percent higher risk of death than women without gum disease.
More research is needed, as the study did not prove a definitive association between gum disease and heart disease. If future studies show treating gum disease—also called periodontal disease—can reduce the early death rate in postmenopausal women, researchers will be able to establish a direct cause-and-effect link.
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