What Dentists Wish All Guys Knew

If you think taking care of your teeth is purely cosmetic, you couldn’t be more wrong. My research over the last decade links gum disease and health problems—especially problems affecting men.

The Prostate Connection
Let’s start with my most recent study. In it, my co-workers and I found that men with severe prostatitis, an enlarged prostate gland resulting in painful and difficult urination, were more likely to have gum disease than patients with milder prostatitis. 

I know gum disease and toilet troubles seem like a strange connection. But we actually predicted it, because the two conditions do share something in common. When a patient suffers from gum disease, the tissues in the mouth become puffy and irritated, causing the gums to pull back from the teeth. With prostatitis, the prostate gland is swollen and tender. The link between the two: inflammation.

The Fire Inside
Inflammation can happen all over your body. Heart disease is blood vessel inflammation, arthritis is joint inflammation, and Alzheimer’s disease is brain inflammation. And there’s plenty of research linking these health problems to gum disease.

How to Put Out the Fire
Will taking care of your smile help prevent health problems? Looks like it. Many studies show you can lower your chance of heart trouble with good oral hygiene. My current study aims to determine whether treating gum disease will help ease prostatitis symptoms, too.

For now, I’ll tell you this: If you’re too tired before bed to floss—or you’re thinking about blowing off your dental cleaning because you’re too busy—you’re not only gambling with your looks, you’re gambling with your well-being. Gum disease and a myriad of serious health problems are related; a terrific smile may be your ticket to a long (and healthy) life.

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