Arteries (from the Greek ἀρτηρία - artēria, "windpipe, artery") are blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart. This blood is normally oxygenated, exceptions made for the pulmonary and umbilical arteries.
The circulatory system is extremely important for sustaining life. Its proper functioning is responsible for the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to all cells, as well as the removal of carbon dioxide and waste products, maintenance of optimum pH, and the mobility of the elements, proteins and cells of the immune system. In developed countries, the two leading causes of death, myocardial infarction and stroke, each may directly result from an arterial system that has been slowly and progressively compromised by years of deterioration. (See atherosclerosis).
The arterial system is the higher-pressure portion of the circulatory system. Arterial pressure varies between the peak pressure during heart contraction, called the systolic pressure, and the minimum, or diastolic pressure between contractions, when the heart expands and refills. This pressure variation within the artery produces the pulse which is observable in any artery, and reflects heart activity. Arteries also aid the heart in pumping blood. Arteries carry blood away from the heart. Veins whereas keep blood flowing towards the heart. Except pulmonary arteries, which carry blood to the lungs for oxygenation, all arteries carry oxygenated blood away from the heart to the tissues that require oxygen.
Can a toothbrush help clean out your heart? Surprisingly, yes. Brushing your teeth has been shown to be the first step in preventing periodontal disease that can lead to heart disease, stroke, and diabetes complications.
Dr. Chris Kammer of the Center for Cosmetic Dentistry says that 80% of adults have periodontal disease and most cases go undetected. The disease raises the level of harmful bacteria in the mouth, which travels through the bloodstream to other organs in the body, and can lead to a plaque buildup in arteries surrounding the heart.
"Most people don't think of their dentist when it comes to health problems that are not found in one's mouth," says Dr. Kammer. "But a dentist can actually be the first line of defense in reducing the risk for many of the most deadly diseases."
Brushing and flossing are effective means of preventing periodontal disease, but diabetes can counteract these efforts. Diabetes, which kills more people annually than breast cancer and AIDS, can weaken your mouth's ability to fight germs, increase blood sugar levels, and make periodontal disease more difficult to control. Your dentist may suspect diabetes if you brush and floss regularly and still have symptoms of periodontal disease. Nearly 21 million children and adults in the U.S. have diabetes, yet one-third of them are not aware they have the disease. Regular gum disease therapy and treatments can help avoid diabetes complications as serious as death.