When it comes to your body, nearly everything is connected. Your gut health affects your mood. Your hormones affect your skin, hair, and fertility. And your oral health is no exception.
Many people believe that a twice-daily toothbrushing is simply to prevent yellowing and to freshen morning breath. But, oral health is so much more than that. In fact, many studies show that oral health is actually connected to heart health, and that poor oral health can increase risk of conditions like heart attack or stroke.
The good news is that improving your oral care routine is simple—and with World Oral Health Day coming up, there's no better time to commit to a healthier, happier you.
The connection between oral health and heart health
Year after year, studies show that people with poor oral health have higher rates of cardiovascular problems, like heart attack or stroke.
Research shows that the presence of gum disease can increase the risk of cardiovascular issues by about 20%.
A study found that periodontitis (gum disease) nearly doubles the risk of suffering a stroke compared to people who have healthy gums.
You know that fuzzy film you sometimes feel in the morning when you run your tongue across your teeth? That's plaque build-up. Scientists have found that with every 1% increase of a person's Approximal Plaque Index, their probability of having a heart attack also increases by 8%.
Why does oral hygiene impact heart health?
While there isn't enough scientific evidence to show causation, there are a few current running theories.
In some cases, doctors have found traces of oral bacteria in blood vessels far from the mouth— leading them to believe that bacteria from gum diseases can travel to blood vessels and cause damage.
Another theory is that high levels of oral bacteria can trigger the body's immune response and create inflammation that cascades throughout the body, including the heart and the brain.
The foundation for a healthy smile
Your oral health routine is likely one of your oldest habits. So much so, that it's normal to run on autopilot and get "the chore" done as quickly as possible. In the process, most people forgo small-yet-mighty steps—even if those steps only take a couple of minutes.
Let's break down the three foundational steps of a good routine for a happier smile and healthier heart.
Step #1: Brushing
Brushing your teeth twice a day helps get rid of leftover food particles and plaque in your mouth. Plaque is the white, tacky buildup that contains bacteria. When plaque isn't removed, it can eventually harden into tartar, which can lead to inflammation and gum disease.
Regular brushing also helps support your immune system because you are cleansing your mouth of bacteria. With one less area to focus on, your immune system can properly manage resources instead of going into overdrive trying to constantly fight off bacteria.
Brush your teeth for at least two minutes, twice a day—once in the morning and once at night.
Remember to brush every surface of your teeth, plus your tongue to reduce bacteria and fight bad breath.
Use a toothpaste with cavity-fighting fluoride and xylitol to reduce oral bacteria.
Find yourself second-guessing if you're truly getting a deep clean? Consider investing in an electric toothbrush. Our smart electric toothbrush has a built-in timer and connects to your phone to showcase stats like brushing duration, coverage, and more—think of it like a personal coach that cheers you on.
Step #2: Flossing
If it's been a while since you've flossed, you're not alone. Dentists recommend that everybody floss daily, yet research shows that just one-third of adults follow this recommendation.
Even though flossing takes just a minute, many people skip over it. This could be because flossing doesn't provide immediate satisfaction, like the fresh-breath feeling you get from brushing your teeth.
Also, gums are susceptible to bleeding if you don't floss often, which can scare people away. Bleeding while flossing is totally normal, but if you find yourself wincing and bearing through the pain, that's a red flag that your technique may be off. While some things in life hurt so good—like questionably hot showers—flossing is not one of them.
Another reason people skip flossing is because it's just not as easy as brushing teeth. Some people struggle with wrapping floss around their fingers and reaching back into hard-to-reach areas. Or they don't like the idea of how much disposable picks cost over a lifetime. (Not to mention the amount of plastic waste it produces.)
But, the benefits of flossing can't be ignored. And, there are better, sustainable alternatives to plastic floss picks. Our refillable floss dispenser precuts the perfect 18" length, so you can say goodbye to the daily guesswork, and our refillable floss pick replaces 180 single-use picks.
Flossing at least once a day helps remove plaque around your gum line, which helps prevent receding gums, gum disease, and tooth decay.
Floss at least once a day to prevent gum disease and tooth loss.
Keep floss in your car, purse, or pocket while on-the-go. A little midday maintenance after lunch or a snack can make a big difference.
Although bleeding while flossing is normal (especially if you haven't flossed in a while), it should never be painful. Follow good technique to avoid getting rough with your gums.
If you have trouble reaching the back of your mouth, consider using a refillable floss pick or dispenser.
Step #3: Mouthwash
Mouthwash doesn't just make your breath smell nice. It has serious health benefits, like preventing plaque build-up and strengthening enamel. There are two key things to remember here:
While we all love a good productivity hack, remember that mouthwash is an add-on to ensure you're covering all the bases. It should never replace brushing and flossing entirely. (Pro tip: Use that extra minute while swishing mouthwash to think of a positive affirmation or have a mini dance party—fun moments like this keeps life ~spicy~.)
Before you add a bottle of mouthwash to your cart, check the ingredients. A good mouthwash should have fluoride, xylitol, and cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC).
Fluoride is one of the most well-known and widely-used dental ingredients you'll find in many mouthwashes. It's a mineral that strengthens the teeth's enamel, which helps prevent decay and cavities.
Xylitol is another star ingredient in great dental products. If you're familiar with this ingredient, you may be surprised to hear that it's used in dental products. Xylitol is a natural sugar, and sugar only damages your teeth, right? However, xylitol actually reduces bacteria's ability to adhere to teeth, which helps prevent cavities and tooth decay.
CPC helps prevent plaque from maturing, which can reduce a person's risk of developing gum diseases like gingivitis.
Mouthwash is more than a glorified breath mint—it helps prevent plaque, strengthens your teeth's enamel, and takes care of those hard-to-reach areas.
Mouthwashes formulated with fluoride, xylitol, and cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) can help prevent cavities and kill bad breath germs.
We recommend using our mouthwash with fluoride once a day. Morning or night? It's up to you.