If your pearly whites aren’t so bright anymore, and your gums bleed at the sight of floss, saying “Cheese” for a photo op is the least of your worries. Neglecting your oral health can significantly increase your risk of periodontal disease—the inflammation of the bones and soft tissues that support your teeth. Left untreated, it could lead to a shocking array of problems:
“Periodontitis is a chronic inflammatory disease. It—like periodontal disease—is an inflammatory condition similar to cardiovascular disease,” says Nancy Newhouse, D.D.S. “Both are associated with chronic inflammation, and periodontal disease is actually a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.”
Tooth Truth: People with periodontitis are almost twice as likely to suffer from heart disease.
According to Newhouse, periodontal disease—including gingivitis and periodontitis—is a risk factor for a number of different cancers. In fact, a 2007 study by the Harvard School of Public Health and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute showed that men with periodontal disease were at a 63% higher risk for developing pancreatic cancer than those without.
Tooth Truth: Periodontitis could lead to the body developing a higher prostate-specific antigen, which is a potential indication of prostate cancer.
Prolonged chronic inflammation, as is caused by periodontal disease, can constrict blood flow, which can lead to impotence,” Newhouse says.
Tooth Truth: A study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine discovered that men in their 30s who had periodontal disease were three times more likely than those without to suffer from ED.
How to Prevent Periodontal Disease
Every day, make sure you brush twice, floss once, and use mouthwash. on top of that, see your dentist at least twice a year. Dentist Nancy Newhouse also recommends getting a comprehensive periodontal examination (CPE) on an annual basis from a professional. “A CPE shows how effectively you clean your teeth, [analyzes] the bone structure, and [identifies] other risk factors, like diabetes,” she says. Bottom line: Talk to your dentist. And if the increased risk of heart disease and cancer isn’t enough to get you into the chair, we sincerely hope the fate of your sex life is.
White Strips vs. Whitening Tooth Paste
Strips: “White strips are embedded with peroxide, which will truly whiten your teeth,” says Chris Salierno, D.D.S. While toothpaste whitens by removing debris and stains, it doesn’t get to the root of the problem. “True whitening comes from brightening the deeper layers of teeth, and toothpaste can’t do that,” Salierno says.
Toothpaste: “Whitening tooth-paste offers an advantage for patients who’ve developed a sensitivity to traditional whitening methods,” says Salierno. Abrasive agents in some whitening toothpastes can damage enamel over time, so make sure yours has the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance.
The Winner: Both. Strips are best for keeping teeth white, but toothpaste is tops for keeping them healthy.