-Dr. Mario Clerici, senior author of FASEB Journal article on the effect of a simple dental cleaning upon the reduction of carotid artery athersclerosis-
"A new study by Washington University researchers, released three weeks ago, found that pneumonia rates in ICU patients could be cut nearly in half, simply by brushing patients’ teeth twice a day."
"The Editorial Staff of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch-
A simple dental toothbrush. A simple dental cleaning 2 or 3 times a year. A simple roll of dental floss. Low cost. Easy to do.
But people still resist it and pay no attention to the benefits of good dental care. I guess we put more value in high-cost prescriptions & surgery to keep us healthy.
Inflammation, heart disease, ventilator-based pneumonia, atherosclerosis, even premature labor. All affected by the sticky icky plaque in your mouth.
Journal of Intensive Care Medicine & How Twice-a-Day Brushing Cuts Venilator-Pneumonia in Half
- The risk of ventilator-based pneumonia was cut almost in half when ICU patients at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis had their teeth brushed twice a day, following a strict regimen.
- Ventilator-based pneumonia is the most common hospital-acquired infection in critically ill patients--developing in 15% of ventilated patients. It's the leading cause of complications and death.
- Similar results will soon be published in a leading nursing journal by researchers at Tel Aviv University. The Israeli nurses brushed their patients teeth 3 times a day, and achieved the same 50% drop in pneumonia cases.
- The bacteria in the mouth turned out to be the same bacteria responsible for the ventilator-based pneumonia.
- How does the patient become infected? If the teeth aren't brushed, the harmless bacteria travels through the breathing tube & colonizes in the lower parts of the lung. With weakened immune systems & higher resistance to antibiotics, ventilated patients can develop pneumonia as quickly as 2-3 days after the tube is inserted.
- Hospital toothbrushes cost 7 cents. The cost of treating ventilator-based pneumonia runs from $10,000-$40,000 per patient. The cost of the entire St. Louis study was $2,187.
The FASEB Journal Study & How a Simple Dental Workup Reverses Atherosclerotic Lesions
- Italian researchers showed for the first time that treating mild to moderate gum disease in otherwise-healthy volunteers reduced the atherosclerotic thickening (plaque) of the carotid artery and improved its function. This is big news in my book!
- This was small study of 35 people, but it's going to be repeated in a much larger group--including people with both advanced gum disease and advanced atherosclerosis--to see if "really big solid arterial plaque" can be reduced with regular dental cleanings.
- "Porphyromonas gingivalis" is the oral bacteria associated with the development of atherosclerotic plaques.
- Previous studies have showed reductions in heart disease markers when dental health is improved. These include: C-reative protein (inflammation), lymphocytes & monocytes. But, Drs. Mario Clerici & Dr. Stefania Piconi of Milan, Italy are the first to show actual arterial plaque reduction through echo doppler cardiography after 6 and 12 months of regular dental cleanings.
- The cleaning was "totally simple" dental hygiene--just the removal of tartar (dental calculus & plaque) and the cleaning of the gums--no antibiotics--no gum surgery.
- Toothbrush contamination prevention: Prevent contamination by keeping brushes from touching each other. Even between uses, toothbrush bacteria can be a problem, according to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). Because most families store their toothbrushes in a huddle in the bathroom cabinet or on a countertop, bacteria that can cause oral infections (like gingivitis and more serious gum diseases) can spread from one family member to another through toothbrush contact. Being stored unprotected on countertops or in toothbrush holders, toothbrushes are also vulnerable to contamination from airborne bacteria, such as from a flushing toilet. Scientists commonly find coliform bacteria (E. coli) on toothbrushes. If it enters the bloodstream, E coli cause serious infection.
- Dentists have recommended that a toothbrush be kept at least six (6) feet away from a toilet to avoid airborne particles resulting from the flush. Tip: Close the toilet seat before flushing!
- Do not routinely cover
toothbrushes or store them in closed containers, unless it's a Phillips Sonicare sanitizing unit (or a similar product). Such conditions (a
humid environment) are more conducive to bacterial growth than the open
- Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or sooner if the bristles appear worn or splayed. This recommendation of the American Dental Association is based on the expected wear of the toothbrush and its subsequent loss of mechanical effectiveness, not on its bacterial contamination.
Methods of Disinfecting Toothbrushes
2. This seems like a lot of work, but you could disinfect contaminated toothbrushes overnight in a solution of household bleach (sodium hypochlorite), with a solution of 1 part bleach to 4 parts water. Disinfect for 20 hours. Then rinse in clean water, and allow to air dry. Keep the bleach mixture in a plastic container - not a metal container. Do not reuse the soaking mixture & do not disinfect more than 1 brush in the solution. That could cause cross-contamination. A Listerine soaking would also kill germs, but not as well as a bleach solution.
3. A recent article published in Pediatric Dentistry discussed toothbrush contamination in a day care setting. The article concluded that toothbrushes can be adequately disinfected by soaking them either in a 0.12% chlorhexidine gluconate solution (Peridex-which is a prescription anti-bacterial mouthwash) for 20 hours, or in a 1 % sodium hypochlorite solution (1 part bleach, 4 parts water) for 20 hours.
4. Keep all bleach products well out of reach of children! In case of accidental ingestion of bleach, do not induce vomiting, but give plenty of water.
4. My recommendation: It seems a lot easier to just get yourself a Phillips Sonicare Flexcare toothbrush (or a similar product) because of its ultraviolet light disinfecting unit. No need to mess with bleach or worry about the nasties on my toothbrush. And the main advantage of the Sonicare is its gum care. Healthy gums=healthy heart.
For more information on Oral Health: The Mouth-Body Connection, click here.