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The Rise of the Dental Hygienist

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A recent study has suggested that by flossing daily, you can increase your life expectancy by around 6.4 years. It has been long established that by flossing, you can make gains on your longevity, but it wasn’t previously thought that it could be as long as 6.4 years. With the rise in the number of dental jobs on offer for Dental Hygienists, many health boards are deciding to invest in more Dental Hygienists to educate the public in order to help them improve their daily oral hygiene.

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It is widely known that we have an aging population. This is of course great news, but it throws up new problems about having to care for our elderly. The Baby Boomer Generation are now into their 50s, and these individuals are expected to live to well past 80 if they remain in good general health. Because we have to look after these older people, funding to do so becomes an important area to deal with.

In order to better understand this growing area, there have been many books published and seminars and studies completed to make sense of this and advise the population on how to stay healthy and live longer. A particular interesting book is called “Real Age” (published by renowned Dr Roizen) which attempts to find the “real age” of a person based on their lifestyle, exercise and eating habits. In this fascinating piece of literature, there is an area on oral health. Dr Roizen made reference to the fact that if a person has a periodontal disease (which incidentally is the condition most commonly associated with tooth loss), does have an effect on life expectancy.

Another study published by Emory University, which worked with Centers for Disease Control, found that patients that suffered with conditions such as Gingivitis and Periodontitis tend to have a death rate of around 23-46% higher than those individuals who don’t suffer from these conditions.  But why is this? Well, the research team found that patients with Gingivitis and Periodontitis are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease and potentially suffer from strokes.

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With regards to flossing, it was proven by the research team that by flossing each and every day, you can make your “arteries younger”. Of course, this is a simplification, but flossing has been found to increase your life expectancy. The researchers identified that flossing is good for your immune system because the bacteria that is associated with periodontal disease can cause arteries to swell. As a result of this, blood flow becomes reduce and constricted which can increase cases of Cardiovascular disease.

These results show how important a Dental Hygienist is in the dental office setting to advise and help look after patient’s oral health when they are at home. Becoming a Dental Hygienist is a great career choice, and the numbers of Dental Hygienists needed will continue to grow. Encouraging flossing could be a vital way to improve a patient’s health, especially if they have any underlying health conditions, and we hope more research into the area can be completed to further our understanding of this important area.