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Oral Health/Systemic Health

We live in a health-conscious society. People of all ages recognize the importance of a healthy lifestyle: a balanced diet including plenty of water, regular exercise, and a good night’s sleep. But did you know that good oral hygiene is also a step toward a healthier life?

Recent research suggests there may be a link between gum disease and other health problems. Several studies, for example, connect gum disease with the development of cardiovascular problems. There is evidence that mouth bacteria associated with gum disease may be linked to heart disease, artery blockages, and stroke.  Additional research suggests that the bacteria that cause gum disease can be a contributing factor in bacterial pneumonia, which also can have serious consequences.

Maintaining healthy gums is particularly important for:

People who are susceptible to bacterial pneumonia -

This group includes people prone to respiratory infections, those with compromised immune systems, and the elderly.

Pregnant women -

Studies further indicate that pregnant women who have gum disease may be at risk for pre-term delivery, which in turn increases the risk of having a low-birth-weight baby.

People with diabetes -

People with diabetes often have gum disease, as well.  Recent studies show that gum disease can make it more difficult for a diabetic to control their blood sugar.  If gum disease in diabetics is treated, however, their sugar control can improve.

Dentists do much more than keep your teeth and gums healthy—they are an integral part of the team of doctors who manage your total health.  Ask your dentist about these links if you suffer from any of the conditions mentioned above, or are predisposed to them. Tell your dentists about any medications you may be taking or about your family’s health history.  Keeping your dentist informed about your total health can greatly improve your chances of living a healthier lifestyle.

This information is courtesy of the ADA brochure Making the Connection: Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body.