The oral cavity plays an important role in the overall health of your body
It has been reported that more than 3 out of 4 Americans have signs of gingivitis, an early form of periodontal disease. Almost 30% show signs of severe periodontal disease. We now know that the health of your teeth and gums has a significant effect on the overall health of your body. Recent published medical studies demonstrate a strong relationship between oral disease and systemic diseases and conditions such as atherosclerosis (arterial disease), heart attack, and stroke.
There are a number of ways that periodontal disease and dental infections can affect your health. First, bacteria from your gums enter the saliva. These bacteria produce ‘cytokines’ which when you breathe can invade the lungs. These cytokines produce inflammation which can cause pulmonary complications.
Secondly, bacteria associated with periodontal disease can enter the circulatory system through inflamed gingiva around your teeth and travel to all parts of the body. As the oral bacteria travels, it may cause secondary infections or it may contribute to disease processes in other tissues and organ systems.
Finally, inflammation associated with periodontal disease often stimulates a systemic inflammatory response (particularly within the arterial tree … the part of the circulatory system which transports blood from the heart and lungs). This inflammatory response has been shown to cause cardiovascular disease and can contribute to the formation of blood clots which may lead to heart attacks and strokes.
A new paradigm between dentistry and medicine is being forged to improve our patient’s care and help avoid catastrophic medical conditions. As the oral systemic connection is more clearly understood dentists who have been trained in diagnosing and treating oral and periodontal disease are playing a greater role in the overall health of us all. Many times, the first signs of systemic disease reveal themselves in changes within the oral cavity. At risk patients (i.e. history of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, diabetes and inflammatory diseases like arthritis) would greatly benefit from a thorough periodontal risk evaluation.
Our goal is to prevent these devastating medical conditions. This new era of interdisciplinary dental/medical cooperation will undoubtedly result in improved health and longevity for all of our patients. We have developed an individually tailored evaluation system and specific treatment regimens to address the all too common problem of periodontal disease.
You knew we could save your teeth … now you know we may help save your life!