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The following article was published in Your Health Magazine. Our mission is to empower people to live healthier.
Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS
Healthy Mouth Equals Healthy Body
Karl A. Smith, DDS, LLC
. http://www.drkarlsmith.com/

Healthy Mouth Equals Healthy Body

Do you have bleeding gums, a sore mouth, loose teeth or bad breath? If so, you may be among the majority of Americans who have gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. And if you have it, you should take it seriously (by making an appointment with a periodontist today) not just because of the problems it can cause in your mouth, but because it may increase your risk of developing a range of full-body diseases, from heart disease to cancer.

The Connection Between Mouth and Body

Just like bacteria, which invades the body through cuts or other breaks in the skin, germs can gain access to the bloodstream when they get far enough under the gums. Periodontal disease causes pockets between the teeth and the gums, which are ideal breeding ground for some bacteria. And, unlike external bacteria that invade through obvious routes and cause obvious infection and swelling, periodontal bacteria are silent invaders, traveling from the mouth to all the crucial organs of the body undetected until they cause or contribute to a number of deadly diseases. There may be few symptoms and no pain, until your gums start to bleed and your teeth loosen and actually fall out.

Periodontal Linked Diseases

Periodontal disease is linked to diabetes, as both a cause and exacerbating factor. Studies have shown that treating periodontal disease can improve blood sugar, and just going in for regular cleanings improves diabetic control. There is also a strong association between periodontal disease and low birth weight babies. Studies have found periodontal bacteria in amniotic fluid. When bacteria get into the mouth and travel to the bloodstream they elevate prostaglandins, the same inflammatory markers that stimulate uterine contractions, causing early labor. Since pregnant women are more likely to get gingivitis because of elevated hormone levels, it’s crucial that they pay attention to dental care. Periodontal disease can be a factor in lung disease as well. Bedridden elderly patients who don’t or can’t take good care of their teeth can breathe in bacteria, which can cause pneumonia. People with COPD need to be especially careful to avoid periodontal disease since their lungs have a reduced capacity to fight off infection.

Dentists With Super Powers

Periodontists are dentists who specialize in the treatment and prevention of periodontal (gum) disease. They are experts in the treatment of oral inflammation, plaque and bacteria as they receive extensive training in these areas during their three additional years of education beyond dental school, plus continuing education throughout their careers. Periodontists are familiar with the latest techniques for diagnosing and treating periodontal disease, and are trained in performing cosmetic periodontal procedures, and dental implants.

How to Get a Healthy Mouth and Body

Remedying gum disease may help lower these overall health risks. When an inflammatory condition is suspected or diagnosed, it is important to quickly consult with a periodontist, as sometimes the only way to detect periodontal diseases is through a periodontal evaluation. A periodontal evaluation may be especially important if you:

  • Have a high risk for periodontal diseases.
  • Have heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease or osteoporosis, or are thinking of becoming pregnant.
  • Have a family member with periodontal disease. Research suggests that the bacteria that cause periodontal disease can pass through saliva, which puts children and couples at risk for contracting the periodontal disease of another family member.
  • Have a mouth sore or irritation that does not get better within two weeks.
  • Take control of your preventative dental health. Make an appointment for a periodontal evaluation with an experienced periodontist today. Taking care of your teeth and gums will not only help enhance your smile, but will help you maintain your overall health.
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