Dr. Paul Perella, DMD

HEALTHY GUMS ARE ESSENTIAL TO GOOD OVERALL HEALTH

It's hard to believe, but antibiotics destroyed Charlize Theron's baby teeth. "I had no teeth until I was 11," she says. Wow. Great smile now. How'd that happen? (Hint: Great dental care and flossing.)

For most folks, though, it goes the other way: As you get older you tend to neglect your teeth (one-third to one-half of adults in North America don't make their yearly dental check up, and only 36% of women and 14% of men floss even four times a week), which is a big reason why 75% of adults have some form of gum disease.

Gum disease increases the risk for kidney cancer by 49%, pancreatic cancer by 54% and blood cancers by 30%. It also ups the chances for Type 2 diabetes and related complications, rheumatoid arthritis, impotence, memory dysfunction and Alzheimer's disease. There's still debate about whether it triggers heart disease (The American Heart Association says no, but we think the proof is out there.)

Fortunately, we've got two smart ways to give your whole body a reason to smile.

1. We've told you before and we're gonna tell you again: Brush, rinse, floss.
Brush your teeth for at least two minutes twice a day; floss once; and use a non-alcohol based mouthwash (the alcohol may contribute to oral cancer.)

2. Opt for the two C's: Crunchy foods (apples, celery, and carrots are tooth brushing wonders), and a cuppa tea (green or black--both kill bad bacteria).