Health & Fitness

By Amy Carroll

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Have you heard brushing your teeth might be good for your ticker? The oral- and heart-health connection is a growing focus of medical researchers who aim to reduce risk of heart attacks and strokes.  After a study involving a new plaque-reducing toothpaste, Plaque HD, was published in The American Journal of Medicine this fall, the teal-colored toothpaste found its way to my brush.

The October 19, 2016, AJM article says that in a 60-day trial with 61 subjects randomized to Plaque HD or a placebo, researchers discovered that Plaque HD reduced dental plaque as well as inflammation throughout the body.

I’d only been using it for three weeks when I visited my dental hygienist.

“Your gums look awesome!”

It was not her usual greeting.

The dark pigments in the toothpaste are part of a technology meant to help you to visually identify plaque during the brushing process. Knowing this, in contrast to my usual let’s-get-this-over-with routine, I had been curious. Would I brush away the green?

In the trial, inflammation was measured in a blood test through the high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) which is a sensitive marker for cardiovascular disease. Image: National Institute of Standards and Technology, London.

Upon the October publication of their AJM study and accompanying editorial, AJM Editor in Chief, Joseph S. Alpert, MD, senior author, Charles H. Hennekens, MD, DrPH, and co-author Patrick E. McBride, MD, MPH announced their intent to do a large-scale trial to test whether Plaque HD reduces heart attacks and strokes.

“We have two large research networks in Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest,” McBride said, “planning to take the next step with this product that can potentially prevent heart attacks and strokes. It’s a toothpaste that identifies plaque and reduces gum disease and in a fun way – with mint and bubble gum that gets kids to brush their teeth. It could reduce the nation’s number one cause of death and disability. Who knew that brushing your teeth could reduce heart attacks and strokes?”

Alpert noted the ingredients are plant-based and gluten-free, and that previous studies have found it removes plaque more than placebo-type toothpastes. “Plaque is colorless, so what this coloring agent does, it shows you where you’re missing the plaque. Targetol Technology has cleaning agents,” he said, “where the minute Plaque HD adheres to the mouth, the plaque begins to break down.”

According to a 2015 study, approximately 86 Million men and women have cardiovascular disease. Heart attacks are the No. 1 cause of death both worldwide and in the U.S.; and strokes are the No. 5 cause of death in the U.S. Photo: Mayur Gala

An academician who has dedicated his career to reducing premature death, Hennekens takes an epidemiological perspective when he sees the potential of Plaque HD to prevent cardiovascular disease globally. “Aspirin costs about $13 to save a life when given during a heart attack,” he said, “but does confer bleeding risks with long term use, so the risk-to-benefit and cost-to-benefit potential of this toothpaste provides a strong incentive to conduct a large-scale trial.”

Not quite done with me in the dentist’s chair, my hygienist did ultimately find some of the telltale blue-green pigment.

It was in a hard-to-reach area, where I’m to pay more attention to brushing. Darn straight. I’m going for awesomer.

This month, we celebrate the heart, in love and in heart health. Good oral hygiene might very well help us in both areas.

Plaque HD is available for purchase via plaquehd.com

The AJM article “Randomized trial of Plaque identifying Toothpaste: Dental Plaque and Inflammation” can be found here http://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(16)30971-8/pdf

Originally published February 2017

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