Save your Heart by Brushing your Teeth

March 12th, 2020

According to a recent study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, toothbrushing multiple times a day can lower one's risk of heart disease.

Let's Dig Deeper

This study involved one hundred sixty thousand participants between the ages of 40-79 years, who were tracked over a ten year span.  These individuals had no history of atrial fibrillation or heart failure at the the beginning of the study.

The study results were independent of factors such as age, gender, socioeconomic status, exercise frequency, alcohol consumption, and other behaviors that could damage the heart.

At the ten year followup evaluation, they there 4,911 participants who had developed atrial fibrillation and 7,971 developed heart failure.

Back to Basics

Anatomy of the Heart:

The heart has 4 chambers.  The two upper chambers are called the atria.  The two lower chambers are called ventricles.  Oxygen-poor blood returns from the body and flows first into the right atrium then into the right ventricle.  From here the blood gets oxygen from lungs. Now oxygen rich blood flows into the left atrium and then into the left ventricle.  Now the blood is pumped out of the heart to the rest of the body. The atria and ventricles contract or "pump" blood in a coordinated way.  Click here to see an animation by the American Heart Association.

What is Atrial fibrillation?

According to the American Heart Association, atrial fibrillation is noted by a quivering heart beat or irregular heart beat.  This can lead to blood clots, stroke or heart failure.  Click here to see an animation of Atrial fibrillation.

What is Heart Failure?

According to the American Heart Association, heart failure occurs when the heart is not pumping as effectively as it could be.  The heart cannot keep up with its workload.  Therefore, the body is not getting enough oxygen that it needs. This condition is a chronic continuous degradation of heart muscle that leads to worsening performance of the heart without medical intervention.  Therefore, one common term that is associated with the ineffective heart, is congestive heart failure. Click here to seen an animation of heart failure.

Toothbrushing Benefits

According to this study, toothbrushing at least three times a day reduces one's risk of atrial fibrillation and heart failure. Researchers from this study believe that the mechanical action of the toothbrush against teeth help lower bacterial levels that are below the gum level before they enter the bloodstream.

Put this Concept into Practice

Brush your teeth after mealtimes.  Parents, do this for your own health and then model this habit to your children.  Children often will follow a parent's lead.  Children who are too young to brush their own teeth should be assisted by a parent or guardian. Often I hear from parents that say that their child doesn't like to have their teeth brushed or won't tolerate it.  When I ask the parent how often they brush their teeth, it is often less than two times a day.  Please note that you are the parent. It is your responsibility to take care of your child.  A child will protest all day long to avoid anything he or she doesn't like.  Toothbrushing is one battle that you have to win, parents.  For a toothbrushing refresher, head to our page on preventive care.

Toothbrushing is an effective way to not only help your teeth, but it can also reduce your risk for some heart diseases like atrial fibrillation and heart failure. Start today!

Dr. Allen Job, DDS, MS, MPH, MS is a board certified pediatric dentist who practices in San Diego, California, where he specializes in prevention. For more than a decade, served as assistant professor for the Department of Pediatric Dentistry at Loma Linda University School of Dentistry (LLUSD). He is currently an instructor at LLUSD.






Caries Risk Assessment - What's the big deal?

May 4th, 2017

Caries Risk Assessment - What's the big deal?What is the Caries Risk Assessment Tool?

The Caries Risk Assessment Tool is a research-based tool used to identify the risk factors that cause dental decay. It is also used to provide recommendations to reduce the risk of future cavities.  It has been well documented that dental decay affects children throughout their childhood and into their early adulthood.  The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that there has been a significant increase in dental decay in primary (baby) teeth.  This study further revealed that in U.S. children ages 2-5, one in four had dental decay.  Moreover, one half of children ages 12-15 had dental decay.

Why is this needed?

Instead of just filling cavities, this new method helps identify the cavity-forming risk factors and then provides guidelines to prevent future dental cavities.  The old method of just treating dental decay did not address the root factors that cause dental decay.  Several years ago, leading dental experts, ranging from educators, clinicians, and policy makers, converged to create the Caries Risk Assessment tool. Using the Caries Risk Assessment is a new paradigm shift that helps health care providers and educators provide specific recommendations to decrease the risk of getting dental caries.

What are the categories?

There are 3 risk categories:  High, Moderate, and Low

For each category there are recommendations based on the child’s age.

Some common recommendations include: nutrition changes, use of fluoride supplements, sealants, and more frequent cleaning and checkups.

Still need more information?

For additional information you may contact these organizations:

I've got it, what should I expect at my child's next dental visit?

At your child's next dental checkup visit, you will be asked a few questions that will help determine your child's risk for dental decay.  These responses will be used along with the information Dr. Allen Job gather's during your child's examination to determine your child's risk for dental decay.  Dr. Job and his team will be review that information with you at the end of the appointment.

How often will the Caries Risk Assessment be performed?

The Caries Risk Assessment will be performed each time at you're child's checkup appointment.  This is an ongoing process.   Our goal at All Smiles Pediatric Dentistry is to prevent dental decay from starting in your child.  This involves providing you with easy ways to prevent dental decay. Our secondary goal is to convert Moderate and High Risk patients into Low Risk patients.

Contact our office, All Smiles Pediatric Dentistry to schedule an appointment with Dr. Allen Job.  Dr. Job and his team will be able to provide you with more information for your child at his or her visit.

Dr. Allen Job, DDS, MS, MPH, MS is a board certified pediatric dentist who practices in San Diego, California, where he specializes in prevention.  He is also an assistant professor at Loma Linda University Department of Pediatric Dentistry.