Fairport, Pittsford and Rochester, NY
We all learned at our mother’s knee the importance of brushing our teeth. Later in life, it seems the importance of flossing became clear. In light of recent developments, good oral hygiene has never been more important. A checkup at the dentist needs to be more than just a once-over.
Recent studies suggest that people with periodontal disease (gum disease)—a bacterial infection of the gums, connective tissue and bone supporting the teeth—have double or even triple the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Who’s best equipped to identify oral infections? Your dentist! I believe it’s our responsibility as the keepers of America’s oral health to diagnose and treat oral infections, but not all dentists are aggressive about identifying and treating gum disease proactively.
Bale and Doneen in Beat the Heart Attack Gene point out that 75% of Americans have some degree of gum disease—the most common chronic infection in the United States. The leading indicator of this condition is bleeding gums. [Beat the Heart Attack Gene, page 43]
Let me say this clearly! Bleeding gums are not normal. Bad breath, puffy-looking gums, receding gums and changes in your bite are not normal. Given the proliferation of undiagnosed gum disease, I believe we all must know someone who is suffering from it but has not been diagnosed. Today, evidence that healthy gums help prevent heart attacks and strokes is so powerful that the editors of The American Journal of Cardiology and the Journal of Periodontology have issued consensus statements about the importance of diagnosing and treating gum disease.
Here are a couple of key findings summarized briefly:
- Patients with moderate to severe gum disease are at potential risk for cardiovascular disease.
- Patients with gum disease should get a complete physical exam and blood pressure measurement annually.
- Patients should also be checked and treated for diabetes, high cholesterol and family history of cardiovascular disease.
Thanks for reading, your open mind and the confidence you place in Pittsford Dental Excellence Center.