Why Not Brushing Your Teeth Is So Bad For Your Health

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Even if you lie about flossing, consume a steady diet of sugar, and haven't been to the dentist in years, the very least you can do for your mouth is brush your teeth twice a day. Regular brushing is a basic hygiene practice that's observed across the globe, but just how necessary is it to human survival? In their new video, Life Noggin explains why the benefits of brushing extend beyond your pearly whites.

If you stopped brushing your teeth, all the bacteria and bits of food normally cleared out by your twice-daily cleanings would thrive unchecked. Cavities would start to form, your gums would become inflamed, and your breath would reach room-clearing levels of stench. But the sorry state of your mouth would be just a fraction of the problem. With the opening acting as a haven for germs, harmful bacteria like MRSA and Staphylococcus aureus would have a greater likelihood of surviving there long enough to enter your bloodstream. A dirty mouth can also nourish the bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis, a bug that causes an advanced stage of gingivitis that may lead plaque to build up inside the arteries if it enters the heart. So when your dentist harps on you about brushing regularly, they're not being overly dramatic.

With the potential to prevent life-threatening conditions, you may wonder how the rest of the animal kingdom gets along without oral hygiene. While some creatures have developed teeth that replace themselves quickly or teeth that resist erosion, others make their own toothbrushes. Elephants, for example, wipe bacteria off their tusks whenever they scrape bark from a tree or dig a hole. Humans in ancient times used a similar method: Before the first toothbrush was invented, they would chew on bark and scrub their teeth with the tattered ends to get that refreshing clean feeling.

Check out the full story from Life Noggin in the video below.

[h/t Life Noggin]

Pioneering Heart Surgeon René Favaloro Is Being Honored With a Google Doodle

Dr. René Favaloro (left) pictured with colleague Dr. Mason Sones.
Dr. René Favaloro (left) pictured with colleague Dr. Mason Sones.
The Cleveland Clinic Center for Medical Art & Photography, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 4.0

Argentinian heart surgeon René Favaloro is the subject of today’s Google Doodle, which features a sketched portrait of the doctor along with an anatomical heart and several medical tools, The Independent reports.

The renowned doctor was born on this day in 1923 in La Plata, the capital of Argentina’s Buenos Aires province, and pursued a degree in medicine at La Plata University. After 12 years as a doctor in La Pampa, where he established the area’s first mobile blood bank, trained nurses, and built his own operating room, Favaloro relocated to the U.S. to specialize in thoracic surgery at the Cleveland Clinic.

In 1967, Favaloro performed coronary bypass surgery on a 51-year-old woman whose right coronary artery was blocked, restricting blood flow to her heart. Coronary bypass surgery involves taking a healthy vein from elsewhere in the body (in this case, Favaloro borrowed from the patient’s leg, but you can also use a vein from the arm or chest), and using it to channel the blood from the artery to the heart, bypassing the blockage. According to the Mayo Clinic, it doesn’t cure whatever heart disease that caused the blocked artery, but it can relieve symptoms like chest pain and shortness of breath, and it gives patients time to make other lifestyle changes to further manage their disease.

Favaloro wasn’t keen on being called the “father” of coronary bypass surgery, but his work brought the procedure to the forefront of the clinical field. He moved back to Argentina in 1971 and launched the Favaloro Foundation to train surgeons and treat a variety of patients from diverse economic backgrounds.

Favaloro died by suicide on July 29, 2000, at the age of 77, by a gunshot wound to the chest. His wife had died several years prior, and his foundation had fallen deeply into debt, which Argentinian hospitals and medical centers declined to help pay, The New York Times reported at the time.

“As a surgeon, Dr. Favaloro will be remembered for his ingenuity and imagination,” his colleague Dr. Denton A. Cooley wrote in a tribute shortly after Favaloro’s death. “But as a man ... he will be remembered for his compassion and selflessness.” Today would have been his 96th birthday.

[h/t The Independent]

A Simple Way to Cure Brain Freeze Quickly

vitapix/iStock via Getty Images
vitapix/iStock via Getty Images

As one of life’s simple pleasures, ice cream should not have the capacity to cause spontaneous and agonizing pain immediately after ingestion. Yet ice cream and other extremely cold food frequently catches us off-guard by inciting what is known as “brain freeze” or “ice cream headache.” Fortunately, there’s a way to alleviate this harsh side effect.

According to Johns Hopkins University, a bout of radiating pain in your head after eating cold food is known as cold neuralgia or sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. It’s likely caused by your body entering survival mode when it detects a freezing temperature on the palate (roof) of the mouth: our system constricts blood vessels in the palate to preserve our core temperature. When they rapidly open back up, a pain signal is sent to the brain via the trigeminal nerve. Since that nerve leads directly to the midface and forehead, your face bears the brunt of the referred pain from the mouth.

A brain freeze typically lasts less than five minutes. But when your head is throbbing, that can feel like forever. To minimize the pain, the best strategy is to warm the palate up. You can do this by pressing your tongue or a thumb against the roof of your mouth, by drinking a warm liquid, or both. Covering your face and breathing into your hands can also warm the air inside your mouth that was chilled by the ice cream.

If you want to take preventive measures, avoid gulping cold drinks and take smaller bites. Holding the ice cream in your mouth to warm it before swallowing can also reduce the potential for a painful end to your cone or slushy drink.

[h/t Johns Hopkins Medicine]

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