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New toothpaste
to prevent heart disease
may not be as radical as thought

November 2016

man sleeping

For some time now there has been news that the sticky bacterial plaque that can build up on our teeth can cause more than just tooth decay and gum disease.

More news has been trickling in recently about research that shows bacteria in the mouth can also be linked to other health problems including heart attack. Research is ongoing and while some scientists have identified links between poor oral health and other health problems, no real cause and effect has yet been established.

The information has helped people take plaque more seriously. However, in recent weeks there has been a lot of news about a study which showed that a special new toothpaste helps to prevent heart attacks because it identifies areas of plaque that needs to be cleaned. The story has attracted wide attention.

The special Plaque HD toothpaste turns the bacteria still sticking to your teeth green, showing where extra care and brushing is required.  Research on the toothpaste was carried out in a joint programme between the University of Illinois and the Florida Atlantic University in America and reported that people who used the new toothpaste had a bigger reduction in dental plaque than those using normal toothpaste.

 The results also showed that people who used the new toothpaste had lower levels of hsCRP at the end of the research than those using normal toothpaste.  hsCRP, or high sensitivity C-reactive protein,  is a marker for inflammation in the body.

Overall the researchers reported that the toothpaste "produced a highly significant reduction in dental plaque" and "decreased inflammation as measured by hsCRP." They said the findings "support the hypothesis that this plaque identifying toothpaste reduces risk of cardiovascular disease."

However, before everyone rushes out to buy the special new Plaque HD toothpaste there are a few things worth noting. First, the study was funded by TJA Health, which are the manufacturers of the new Plaque HD toothpaste.  Secondly the study was mainly based around a very limited number of people with just 61 people involved in the main research.

Really the results simply back up the fact that there is a link between poor dental hygiene, high levels of hsCRP and increased heart disease, something that was first reported six years ago.

Since then dentists and health workers have gone a long way to encourage everyone to brush their teeth thoroughly and regularly.  Certainly toothpaste that identifies plaque could be useful, but no more than possibly the chewable tables which do the same job and have been around for a long time. The toothpaste doesn’t appear to provide extra protection in itself.

The main thing is however you do it, it is important to keep your mouth healthy by brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride-containing toothpaste, to floss between the teeth, to limit the amount of sugar and sugar drinks you consume and to visit your dentist and hygienist regularly.

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