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affect other areas of the body and even accumulate in other areas as well. An example of this is when bacterial colonies form in the blood vessels of the heart and begin to “clog” the arteries in a manner similar to cholesterol plaques. The second factor is that gum disease is a chronic inflammatory disease. The other conditions referred to earlier are also chronic inflammatory diseases. The treatment of inflammation may not only help with the periodontal condition, but may also help in treating other inflammatory diseases as well. An example of this link is when a patient who has periodontal disease as well as diabetes and the diabetes is addressed, the periodontal problem is more easily controlled. The same holds true if the periodontal problem is addressed then the diabetes is more easily controlled. Physicians are beginning to work more closely with dentists when treating patients with diseases like diabetes, heart and circulatory disease, etc... All the medical conditions listed are obviously very serious and prevalent, so it is great to see physicians, dentists, and researchers working closely together for the good of the patient. A periodontal evaluation by your dentist or a periodontist may be a good idea if periodontal disease runs in your family, if you feel you may have some of the signs or symptoms of periodontal disease, or if you have been diagnosed with heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, osteoporosis, or if you are thinking about becoming pregnant. When patients go to the dental office for exams and “cleanings”, periodontal disease should be one of several conditions looked for by the dentist and dental hygienist. They both have extensive training in diagnosing and treating periodontal disease. So, the next time you go in for a routine dental check up, remember, there’s a lot more at stake than just a cleaning or cavities, your whole body and its well being are affected. By: Dr. Pedro J. Cuartas, DDS If you were asked about the significance of your oral health and the impact it could have on the rest of your body, what would you say? For many years most people have always treated the mouth as if it were an island all to its own. Many people would only think about cavities or broken teeth and maybe some bleeding gums, and that’s about it. When people would think of dental treatment they would usually think about fillings, removing teeth, replacing teeth, and cleanings. There was never a second thought given to the connection between the mouth and the rest of the body. Fortunately, this has been changing in the wake of advanced research linking periodontal disease or gum disease to systemic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, respiratory disease, and many others. Periodontal disease is an advanced inflammatory gum disease which usually results from prolonged exposure to certain bacteria which are found in the mouth. If the bacteria are allowed to accumulate around and under the gums they can eventually begin to destroy the surrounding bone and gum tissue. Some of the signs of periodontal disease are bad breath, bleeding gums, painful or sore gums, infection, and in more advanced cases, loose teeth. The latest research has linked periodontal disease with many systemic conditions that no one would have ever thought. There are links to heart disease and stroke, pregnancy problems, diabetes, respiratory diseases, osteoporosis, and possibly even Alzheimer’s disease. The link between periodontal disease and these other conditions seems to be two-fold. First, the bacteria associated with periodontal disease can get into the blood stream and

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