By Michael G. Rehme, DDS, NMD, CCN
It’s often said that it takes about 21 days to introduce a new routine into our lifestyles, though truth be told, science has shown that it actually takes about 66 days, on average. Either way, repetition and commitment are two critical factors for a successful outcome. But without a perceived value for this new behavior, the new idea or task soon becomes just an unimportant memory in our lives.
And it’s not just monumental changes that have value. Sometimes a simple yet uncomplicated action can produce amazing results for your overall health and wellness.
We’ve all been told to floss our teeth daily, but is this message being received and taken seriously by the general public? Considering that about half of all adults have some degree of gum disease, I don’t think so.
An assertive effort by the dental profession is needed to convey the real value of flossing, which goes far beyond preventing periodontal disease and tooth decay. perhaps an educational campaign: Floss Daily, Live Longer.
Flossing is a vital habit in respecting the tooth/body connection!
Only about 5 to 10% of Americans are regular flossers. According to studies done at Emory University by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, common gum problems such as gingivitis and periodontitis (inflammation or infection of the soft tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth) lead to a 23 to 46% higher rate of death.
If that doesn’t get your attention, how about this?: Daily flossing adds an average of 6.3 years to a person’s lifespan. That’s right! “Flossing your teeth daily can make your arteries younger,” writes Dr. Michael F. Roizen in his book Real Age. “Studies show that flossing helps keep your immune system young.”
The same bacteria that cause gum disease can also trigger an immune response, inflammation, that causes the arteries to swell. This results in constricted blood flow, which raises the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Weston Price presented similar information back in the 1930s. He observed that bacteria found in the oral cavity did indeed circulate through the entire body. Not only could it lead to a higher incidence of heart disease; it also leads to a persistent degenerative condition for all your organ systems.
A decade later, German scientist Dr. Reinhold Voll taught that “80-90% of all ailments in the body originate in the oral cavity.”
If you can eliminate harmful bacteria in your mouth simply by flossing before you brush your teeth, you provide yourself with an excellent opportunity to stay healthy and live longer.
So for all you non-flossers and seldom-flossers, I make a personal challenge to each and every one of you: Find a pack of floss or go buy some, then carefully floss around all your teeth, making sure that you get the floss below the gumline. This takes two minutes or less. (And if you’re not sure about technique, this video will show it to you.)
Once you’ve flossed, visually examine your gums in the mirror. Most likely you’ll see them bleeding. You might taste blood in your mouth. This is because
- There’s an inflammatory response taking place in your mouth, with harmful bacteria entering the bloodstream.
- Your immune system is being stressed.
- The health of major organ systems are being compromised – heart, kidneys, lungs, stomach, liver, gallbladder, adrenals, spleen, intestines, etc.
- Everything gets exposed to bacteria originating in the mouth.
Get the picture?
So do yourself a favor and floss daily. Try it for just 21 days and you’ll not only see the difference but you’ll lay the groundwork for developing a healthy new habit that will remain with you for the rest of your life.
Living longer has a lot more to do with your own behavior than luck or good genes, after all. No more excuses, just do it.
Updated from the original