Taking care of your gums by brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits could help hold heart disease at bay. Researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health have shown for the first time that as gum health improves, progression of atherosclerosis slows to a clinically significant degree. Findings appear online in the Journal of the American Heart Association. “These results are important because atherosclerosis – a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and death – progressed in parallel with both clinical periodontal disease and the bacterial profiles in the gums. This is the most direct evidence yet that modifying the periodontal bacterial profile could play a role in preventing or slowing both diseases,” says Dr. Moïse Desvarieux, lead author of the paper and associate professor of epidemiology.