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Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Mouth/Body Connection

There is a connection between a healthy mouth and a healthy body. Bleeding gums, visible root surfaces and loose teeth are not normal at any age. These are usually signs of
an infection called periodontal (gum) disease. Increasing medical evidence suggests that an unhealthy mouth may worsen serious medical problems, like heart disease, stroke
and diabetes. Simply said, we know that oral health is important for overall health and vice versa.Periodontal disease is caused by the bacteria in dental plaque,which if not removed through daily tooth brushing and flossing, results in red or swollen gums that bleed easily.
If plaque remains on teeth too long,a hard deposit called tartar or calculus forms. This deposit is removed by your dental hygienist or dentist when your teeth are professionally
cleaned. Left untreated, periodontal disease can destroy the gum tissues and bone around your teeth and eventually teeth can be lost. Periodontal infections can be serious
and can affect not only the mouth, but potentially your overall health.

Research has shown, and experts agree, that there is an association between periodontal diseases and other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, treating inflammation may not only help manage periodontal diseases but may also help with the management of other chronic inflammatory conditions.

When an inflammatory condition is suspected or diagnosed, it is important to consult with both a general physician and a dental health professional, such as a periodontist. Sometimes the only way to detect periodontal diseases is through a periodontal evaluation. A periodontal evaluation may be especially important if you:

  1. Have a high risk for periodontal diseases. Take the AAP risk assestment test.
  2. Have heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease or osteoporosis, or are thinking of becoming pregnant.
  3. Have a family member with periodontal disease. Research suggests that the bacteria that cause periodontal disease can pass through saliva. This means the common contact of saliva in families puts children and couples at risk for contracting the periodontal disease of another family member.
  4. Have a sore or irritation in your mouth that does not get better within two weeks.

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