Deborah Lyle looks at how best to protect patients from heart disease with better oral hygiene
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the major health issues of the day. According to NHS statistics[i], chronic heart disease affects more than 2.6 million UK residents – approximately 0.6 million more men than women – and accounts for over 88,000 deaths annually, primarily from heart attacks.
CVD is largely influenced by lifestyle; with contributory factors ranging from an individual’s weight, diet and levels of physical activity to smoking habits and even stress. Further to this, research is increasingly coming to light demonstrating another link that brings control or even prevention of the disease back to the individual – oral hygiene.
A Scottish health survey[ii] has indicated an increased risk of heart disease for individuals who don’t undertake an adequate, regular oral hygiene routine. Those with the poorest oral hygiene were found to be up to 70% more likely to develop heart disease than others who brushed their teeth twice a day.
Another study[iii], a collaboration between the University of Bristol, Ireland’s Royal College of Surgeons and the State University of New York, has looked into the association between oral bacteria and heart disease and reported that the oral bacterium Streptococcus gordonii could contribute towards the development of CVD.
Although heart disease remains the biggest killer in the UK, there is some good news on the horizon. Heart attack related deaths in England have cut in half since 2002[iv] while public health targets, including reducing premature death from CVD by 40% by 2010, have been met[v].
Oral hygiene habits and oral health in the UK have likewise shown improvement in recent years; with the latest Adult Dental Health Survey establishing that 75% of adults brush their teeth at least twice daily[vi]. However, much fewer numbers use adjunctive interdental cleaning methods – just 22% floss, for example – and this could account in part for the high instances of plaque[vii] was found in two out of every three adults.
Most patients are aware of string floss for cleaning the interproximal spaces, but research has thrown considerable doubt on its effectiveness on reducing interproximal caries[viii] or inflammation.[ix] A significantly more efficient method, which is suitable for most patients, including those with braces or restorations, is the Water Flosser. In particular, the Waterpik Water Flosser is superior to dental floss at reducing gingival bleeding[x], inflammation[xi], and plaque.[xii] In fact, evidence shows that the Waterpik Water Flosser removes up to 99.9% of plaque biofilm from any treated area of the tooth in just three seconds.[xiii]
Through sound education on both the risks associated with poor oral health and the right tools for effective oral hygiene, we can help patients to prevent or control oral disease and help minimise the risk of developing or exacerbating chronic systemic disorders.
For more information on Waterpik® Water Flossers please speak to your wholesaler or visit www.waterpik.co.uk. Waterpik® products are widely available in Boots stores and selected Lloyds Pharmacies.