Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Stay Tuned for a Public Service Announcement

Today I had my regular dental visit. At my last appointment, the dental hygienist suggested that I bring Ella along to help her prepare for her first dental appointment. Ella would be able to see the office, meet our dentist, see what a cleaning is like and hopefully not get freaked out or fearful of the dentist. But, because my appointment was at mid-day, I needed to bring BOTH kiddos along with me. I was a little nervous about it. The girls ARE very well behaved normally, but there is always the "What if?" But, the visit went great. Ella asked tons of questions and did very well. And Lucie, well, she just smiled and charmed everyone.

But, the hygienist did tell me something that I thought that I'd share (aka my Public Service Announcement). You probably know that we're supposed to floss your teeth because it helps prevent gum disease. But, you may not have heard that studies have shown there may be a link between oral bacteria and heart disease. I guess the theory is that when you floss, oral bacteria can enter your bloodstream and eventually make it to your heart. Once there, the bacteria could cause a build-up of plaque that causes heart disease. So, this is the oral health routine my dentist now suggests:

  1. Rinse with a small amount of Listerine to kill the oral bacteria. (By killing the oral bacteria with Listerine before flossing, you're preventing it from being introduced into your bloodstream when you floss.)

  2. Then, floss to get the gunk out.

  3. Then, brush your teeth -- preferably with a Sonicare toothbrush. Because Sonicare toothbrushes are expensive, I did ask if they really perform much better than the inexpensive ones made by toothpaste companies. The hygienist told me that Sonicare is the best thing out there and recommends it to everyone because it does a superior job than the cheapo ones.
You really want to clean your teeth now don't you?

Update: My sister Jessica read this post and did a little more research on this topic. She emailed me this link from the American Heart Association's website. To clarify, according to AHA, "Achieving and maintaining good oral health is important to optimal general health and may reduce the incidence of some cardiac infections such as infective (bacterial) endocarditis." But, the AHA also says that there is conflicting data linking oral bacteria and cardiovascular disease and that more research would need to be done to clarify the role, if any. I have to say that the routine recommended by my dentist does make sense to me...even if the oral bacteria doesn't cause heart disease. I would imagine that the chances of getting an infection would be small. But, if you use Listerine anyway in your dental routine (which we do at our house), it makes sense to switch the order just in case later research does indicate a decisive link.

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