An interesting little study reported in Reuters today discusses the connection between dental health and cardiovascular disease. In short, things like gingivitis, tooth loss due to cavities, and poor dental hygiene significantly increase the risk for heart problems down the line. Being that heart disease is one of our top killers, it’s an important issue to consider.
This is one of a number of recent studies linking dental health with heart health. While at first glance it might appear surprising – and researchers are quick to point out that no causality has been established – I think a general observation about our Western perspective on health can easily be made. It’s not so much cause-and-effect as connection. The Western approach, while radical in its own way (I’m talking about life-saving surgery techniques and the advent of drugs like penicillin), also has its flaws. Treatment tends to focus on parts, not the whole, and care tends to emphasize tinkering, not prevention.
Forgetting to floss isn’t going to give you a heart attack. Rather, not taking proper care of your body generally will manifest problems in the body’s different tissues and systems. It’s not causative, but it is connected.