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Oral and Overall Health: Are They Tied Together?

November 20, 2008 By:
Dr. Jeffrey M. Rosenberg, JE Feature
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While the eyes may be the window to the soul, the mouth is a window to the body's health. The state of one's oral health can offer lots of clues about a person's overall physical state of being; indexed, oral health and overall health are more connected than you might realize.

Sometimes, the first sign of a disease shows up in the mouth. In other cases, oral infections, such as gum disease, can cause problems in other parts of the body.

Most people are aware that lifestyle choices, such as eating right, getting enough exercise and quitting smoking, can help prevent cardiovascular disease, but they may not know that by just brushing and flossing their teeth each day, they might also be avoiding this potentially lethal condition.

Researchers have found that people with periodontal disease (gum disease) are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without periodontal problems.

One theory is that oral bacteria can affect the heart when they enter the bloodstream, attaching to fatty plaques in the coronary arteries (heart blood vessels) and contributing to clot formation.

Another possibility is that the inflammation caused by periodontal disease increases plaque buildup, which may contribute to swelling of the arteries.

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

The foundation of any sound oral-health program is regular checkups and cleanings, as well as impeccable oral hygiene. Millions of people exercise their bodies daily; they also need to exercise their mouths.

Healthy gums should never bleed! Check with you dentist for additional information on your oral health.

Meanwhile, here are some important facts:

· Gum disease affects some 60 million people in the United States and 300 million people worldwide.

· Periodontal disease is the leading chronic infection in the world, more common than the common cold.

· Less than one-fifth of those people with periodontal disease seek treatment.

Jeffrey M. Rosenberg, DDS, is CEO of the Dental Health Care Group and has been involved in health-centered, cosmetic and reconstructive dentistry for more than 25 years.

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