Health Watch -- A Resolution with Teeth

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

It's not too late to add one more resolution to your list.

When you made your list of New Year's resolutions, you may have had the usual ones, like losing weight, eating better, exercising more or getting yourself organized. Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas suggest you add one more: flossing your teeth regularly.

Your dentist probably gives you the flossing lecture at every check-up. Flossing is important for preventing tooth decay and gum disease. When you floss regularly, those dental exams and cleanings go more easily for you.

But that's not the only reason to floss. Dr. James de Lemos, a UT Southwestern cardiologist, says flossing regularly could help you prevent heart disease.

What do your teeth have to do with your heart? Research has shown that inflammation is a major risk factor for heart disease. Gum disease may be a cause of this system-wide inflammation. If you have gum disease, it could raise levels of various proteins throughout your body, causing inflammation in other areas, such as coronary arteries. That could cause heart disease.

So, if you floss daily, your gums will be healthier, and you'll lower your risk for gum disease. That then could keep your arteries from becoming inflamed, which prevents heart disease. See, flossing is more important than even your dentist told you!