April 26, 2023/Daily Health Stories

Why Flossing is Important for Heart Health

A periodontist explains why it's so important to regularly floss your teeth and the health risks if you don't.


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CLEVELAND – Flossing your teeth can sometimes feel like a chore, but it’s an important part of dental hygiene and believe it or not heart health.

“There are a lot of studies that have talked about – at least for periodontal disease – the connection between gum disease and heart health,” explained Sasha Ross, DMD, MS, periodontist for Cleveland Clinic. “And there’s really a very strong association between the two, where patients who have periodontal disease, they’re at a much greater risk for having heart disease, stroke, other issues like that.”

Research shows the association could be due in part to periodontal, or gum disease, leading to inflammation and bacteria in the heart.

With that being said, Dr. Ross notes the risk really depends on the person.

She said she’s had some people who barely floss or brush and have no problems whatsoever, whereas others can have the smallest amount of plaque and go on to experience major complications.

She added that they can also tell when someone isn’t flossing.

For example, they may have bleeding or swollen gums, loose teeth, plaque buildup, cavities, bad breath and gum recession.

So, what can someone do to help prevent that?

“I think a lot of people are never taught how to properly floss and what kind of floss to use, so at one of these visits we can work with you and show you how to do it,” she said. “And then just make it part of your daily routine. I say it’s really good to floss once a day, so ideally you do it at night before you go to bed.”

Dr. Ross said there are other products available that may help if you have trouble flossing, like using a water pick or specialized brushes that can clean between teeth.

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