Can a toothbrush help you live longer?

with Michael J. Olmstead, D.D.S.

What happens in our mouth can affect our health, our lives and even our children.

Sound a little far-fetched? Not according to Dr. Mike Olmstead, D.D.S., a well-known dentist who has appeared on numerous radio talk shows over the past few years and is featured in the upcoming “Doctors Book of Alternative Remedies” by Rodale Press.

“Latest dental research shows that there’s a relationship between bacteria in the mouth and disease in the body. To me this seems logical and easy to understand. For instance, nasty oral bacteria and their waste products can be swallowed, or can enter the blood stream or lymph system through the gums, thereby causing all sorts of health problems.”

And that’s no understatement!

One study showed that pregnant women who have periodontal disease are seven times more likely to have a premature, underweight baby. So gum disease can directly affect the health of your baby. It appears that periodontal disease triggers increased levels of the biological fluids that induce labor, and voila!, the baby comes early and underweight.


And if you’re a man and think that only pregnant woman are at risk, then think twice! Yes, twice. Because research has shown that people with periodontal disease are twice as likely to suffer from heart disease than those without periodontal disease. Several theories exist to explain this link between the heart and the gums. For example, oral bacteria may enter the blood stream and attach to fatty plaques in the coronary arteries, thus contributing to plaque formation. Periodontal disease also increases the amount of fibrinogen (a potent natural clotting agent in the blood stream). Of course this would increase the chance of blood clots and the possibility of a debilitating stroke.

OK, so you don’t have periodontal disease, and therefore you’re safe, right? Well, not so fast! Periodontal disease affects 4 out of 5 Americans, according to information released by the American Dental Association. This figure is also confirmed by the recent Surgeon General’s report on Oral Health. Younger adults are also badly affected. According to the report, 48 percent of 35 to 44 year-olds have gingivitis, and about half of these have destructive gum disease. And like almost everything except wine, it worsens with age.


Gum disease is also linked to diabetes and respiratory diseases. Virtually all diabetics have gum disease and research indicates that the relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes goes both ways. Even in non-diabetics, periodontal disease can increase blood sugar and thus contribute to the body having a high blood sugar level for longer periods of time than normal. So even though most people brush and floss and visit their dentists, they may not be following the routine consistently or are using toothbrushes that don’t remove plaque effectively.


“If you brush your teeth and still need a thorough cleaning when you go for a checkup, then the toothbrush can’t be doing its job properly, can it?” asks Dr. Olmstead.

“What I recommend” says Olmstead, “is that people visit their dentist regularly, and start using a toothbrush that will remove more plaque than can be removed by friction alone. My favorite toothbrush is Earthority’s Ionic toothbrush, which works with or without toothpaste, and actually makes teeth repel plaque, unlike a mechanical or electric brush which tries to scrub plaque off the teeth. Also, this brush is silent and doesn’t vibrate, so its comfortable for all users. Its also important to note that toothbrush trauma is one of the primary causes of gum recession, so this frictionless Ionic action is a great breakthrough.”

So how does such a technological marvel work? “We learn in dental school that plaque and teeth have opposite charges” says Olmstead, “and we know that opposites attract. This brush simply reverses the attraction while you’re brushing, so that teeth will repel plaque rather than attract it.” Simple, he says? Well, the principle may be simple but it took some inventive minds to create it and make it as small and comfortable to use as a regular toothbrush.

Even periodontists are delighted with this advanced IONIC toothbrush. Dr. D.E. Van Scotter did extensive research on the Ionic brush at Marquette University School of Dentistry. As a periodontist he knows what a plaque-free tooth should look and feel like and has personally found that difficult to reach molar areas are much cleaner and his mouth fresher since using this toothbrush. This is to be expected, as the double-blind research at Marquette showed that the group using the Ionic brush had a highly significant reduction in plaque and a dramatic improvement in gingival health.

“The build-up of bacteria-laden plaque leads to gum problems, and eventually to gum disease”, says Olmstead. Remove the plaque, disallow its build-up and you’ll have healthier teeth and gums. You can live a healthier and longer life.” PREVENTION IS BEST To live you need to breathe. So breathe fresh air and not polluted air. Some respiratory infections such as pneumonia may be acquired from “oral pollution”. The mouth and throat contain bacteria. Through aspiration (inhaling), fine droplets laden with this bacteria enter into the lungs, where they breed and multiply, causing pneumonia or other respiratory ailments. So preventive oral hygiene measures are important in making sure that your mouth is free of the plaque upon which the “nasty” bacteria thrive. “Prevention is better than cure” is an old and very wise dictum, and very appropriate in the realm of oral care. Its not much fun having periodontal disease and it can affect our overall health, yet for the most part it seems to be quite preventable. Only a few simple steps are required. So follow a good hygiene routine, see your dentist regularly, and use a better toothbrush. After all, you’re only spending a minute or two brushing your teeth and you want to make sure that you’re removing the most plaque possible in the most efficient way.