BY Cindy Fulenwider Greene, DMD, BGW Dental Group
If the eyes are a window to your soul, then your mouth is a mirror of your overall health. Many studies demonstrate an association between periodontal (gum) disease and chronic conditions such as heart disease. Like heart disease, periodontal disease is most often a “silent disease” going unnoticed until the condition worsens to an extreme degree.
The link in both disease processes is inflammation. Chronic periodontal disease can increase systemic inflammatory factors that affect the vascular system drastically. The bacteria present in the gums in a patient with periodontal disease can travel to other organs such as the lungs, brain and heart, causing infections and other issues.
Despite being preventable, oral disease is widespread in our communities and shares risk factors with other chronic diseases including poor diet/nutrition, tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption, among others. Gum disease affects 80 percent of U.S. adults and most often goes undiagnosed. Warning signs include:
Red, tender or swollen gums
Gums that bleed while brushing or flossing
Gums that seem to be pulling away from your teeth
Chronic bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
Teeth that are loose or separating from each other
Regular cleanings and check-ups with your local dentist are imperative in ensuring not only a healthy mouth and smile, but a healthy heart and body as well.
Dr. Greene is a dentist and partner at BGW Dental Group in Gainesville. Call 678-649-1538 or visit bgwdentalgroup.com for more information.