4 Your Smile: Surprising health benefits beyond your mouth when you floss

It’s 4 Your Smile this week on The Morning Show. We are helping you get your mouth healthy without spending money on things you don’t need.

Monday, we helped you choose the best products for a cleaner and healthier mouth -- breaking down options for toothpaste, toothbrushes, and floss.

It’s the flossing we want to focus on right now. Not only is it an important part of dental hygiene, but believe it or not, flossing is also important for your heart.

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

Research shows the association could be due in part to periodontal disease leading to inflammation and bacteria in the heart. With that being said, Ross noted 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 said they can also tell when someone isn’t flossing. For example, they have:

  • Bleeding or swollen gums
  • Loose teeth,
  • A lot of plaque build up
  • Cavities
  • Bad breath
  • Gum recession

“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,” Ross 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.” She says 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.

When it comes to your kids, dentists say flossing should start when your child has two teeth that touch -- which can be around age 2 or 3 -- and you’ll need to help them until they are old enough to control the floss themselves.

Continuing Coverage of 4 Your Smile

  • Teeth grinding: Now if you’ve been under stress, you’ll want to tune in to watch. Stress can lead to teeth grinding and dentists are seeing more and more cases of it. We’ll tell you the big problem you could face if left untreated.
  • Teeth whitening: We’re getting answers about whitening your teeth at home. The biggest mistakes you want to avoid and what really works.