diseases disorders

A healthy mouth equals a healthy body

        The link between periodontal disease, cardiovascular disease and other  health conditions has been the topic of debate recently, with several  studies backing both arguments for and against the link. Because the  mouth is a pathway to the body, the evidence strongly supports that  there is a link between gum disease and heart disease, according to the  Academy of General Dentistry, an organization of general dentists  dedicated to continuing education.        

“There definitely seems to be a direct link to periodontal disease and  heart disease,” says Dr. William Chase, DDS, FAGD, an Academy  spokesperson. “We will know more about this link as generation X grows  older and more studies are done on the topic.”


Periodontal disease begins with gingivitis, characterized by swollen  gums that easily bleed. Without treatment the condition progresses to  periodontitis, the inflammation of the tissues supporting the teeth.  The theory is that bacteria present in infected gums can come loose and  travel throughout the body. No research has shown how the bacteria are  able to invade but it is suggested that tasks such as brushing,  flossing or even chewing can do the trick.


“Periodontal disease is considered a risk factor for cardiovascular  disease along with smoking, high cholesterol and hypertension,” says  Dr. Chase. “This link means that patients should visit a dentist  regularly so that the disease or any other condition can be diagnosed  and treated early.”


Currently, almost one-half of Americans don’t visit the dentist  regularly. The link between poor oral health and diseases that can  occur in the body reinforce the idea that the mouth is a window to overall health. “Neglecting your oral health can affect your overall  health,” says Dr. Chase. “Pregnancy, diabetes, heart disease and poor  nutrition, all have oral manifestations.”  Dr. Chase suggests regular visits to the dentists along with an at-home  oral health regimen that includes brushing twice daily, flossing,  limiting intake of foods that cause decay, mouth rinses that destroy  bacteria and communicating with the family physician and dentist.