Updated 18 January 2018

Oral health affects the whole body

Recent studies have revealed that oral bacteria may be a contributing factor in a host of conditions including heart disease, strokes, diabetes, dementia and cancer.

Recent studies have revealed that oral bacteria may be a contributing factor in a host of conditions including heart disease, strokes, diabetes, dementia and cancer. As such, it is clear that dental hygiene should take its rightful place high up on the health agenda and it is time for all South Africans to take back the power, when it comes to oral health.

“Brushing your teeth is about so much more than the aesthetic appeal of a bright white smile. It’s also about reducing the incidence of plaque retention, tooth decay and periodontal disease, all of which pose risks not only to your oral health but your general wellbeing too. In fact, recent research suggests that those with periodontal disease are two times more likely to suffer from coronary artery disease than those not afflicted by this condition. There can be no doubt that caring for your teeth can do much to reduce this risk,” explains renowned Johannesburg dentist and Oral-B expert, Dr Hoosen.

The theory is that oral bacteria can circulate through the blood stream thereby causing damage to the inside lining of blood vessels, promoting the development of clots which can lead to a heart attack. This notion is supported by a recent article posted on the American Academy of Periodontology that suggests a link between gum disease and heart diseases and strokes.

Power toothbrush is best

Furthermore, a recent study led by prestigious journal, Lancet Oncology, confirms the link between gum disease and lung, kidney and blood cancers. The study reveals that even the presence of moderate gum disease can increase the risk of cancer by 14%.  “While the precise cause of the link between cancer and gum disease is still under extensive research, what is certain is that pathogenic (bad) bacteria, which is caused by gum disease, can make its way into your blood and may lead to a decrease in the body’s immune response. As a result, irreversible damage to the immune system can occur, thereby increasing the risk of cancer,” explains Dr Hoosen.

“Tooth decay and gum disease are caused by plaque, which can be described as a thin and colourless sticky film containing bacteria that forms on one’s teeth constantly. The bacteria make use of carbohydrates (starches and sugars) to produce an acid that attacks the enamel of the teeth. Repeated acid attacks of this nature cause a cavity to form and if left unchecked can penetrate the inner softer layer of the tooth and spread rapidly through the tooth’s structure,” says Dr Hoosen. “Plaque also causes inflammation of the gums, which is known as gingivitis. If gingivitis is left untreated, it can advance to periodontitisand can lead to major damage to the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth.”

It’s clear why brushing your teeth is so important. However, according to research conducted by Oral-B, which surveyed 16 000 participants, most people do not brush for the prescribed two minutes twice a day, too much pressure is applied and they aren’t thorough enough in their technique.

“For this reason, I always recommend a power toothbrush to my patients. Power brushes are clinically proven to remove more plaque when compared to their manual counterparts and are essential for the maintenance of healthy teeth and gums as well as removing the plaque and tartar that can lead to the increased risk of heart diseases, strokes and cancer.” concludes Dr Hoosen.

Too many of us believe that brushing manually is good enough. Take back your power in the prevention of oral diseases and switch to an Oral-B power toothbrush.

(Press Release, October 2012)


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Oral health expert

Dr Imraan Hoosen qualified from the Medical University of South Africa in 1997. Together with his partner, Dr Hoosen now runs a group of dental practices around Johannesburg (Lesedi Private Hospital, Highlands North Medical Centre , Brenthurst Clinic, Parklane Clinic, Simmonds Street Medical and Dental Centre, Soni Medical Centre- Newclare). Dr Hoosen can be contacted on 011 933 4096.

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