The dental and medical professions are aggressively researching the links between oral periodontal (gum) disease and systemic health.
Reports show that 3 out of 4 Americans have signs of gum disease, and 30% of these have severe disease, called periodontitis. Findings show that bacteria and inflammation associated with periodontal disease travel to other parts of the body contributing to infection and systemic inflammatory response. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, orthopedic implant failure, and kidney disease may have an inflammatory origin resembling gum disease, thus it is in every patient’s best interest to maintain his or her mouth in an optimum state of health.
A new paradigm between dentistry and medicine is now developing regarding patient care. As the oral systemic connection is more clearly understood, dentists who are trained in diagnosing oral and periodontal disease will play a greater role in the overall health of their patients. Many times, the first signs of unnatural systemic health conditions reveal themselves in changes within the oral cavity. Medical histories should be carefully reviewed when “at risk” patients are identified. A comprehensive Periodontal Risk Evaluation should be performed and results should be sent to the patient’s treating physician(s).
Physicians will play a more active role in the oral systemic connection. They will screen at risk patients for the common signs of periodontal disease, which include bleeding gums, swollen gums, pus, shifting teeth, chronic bad breath, and family history of periodontal disease. When appropriate, they will refer them to dentists and periodontists who are uniquely qualified to evaluate and treat their patient’s oral conditions. This new era of interdisciplinary dental/medical cooperation will undoubtedly result in improved patient health, as well as an improvement in overall patient longevity.
We are also involved with medicine in providing oral appliances for sleep apnea, which affects 40 million Americans, contributing to problems like high blood pressure and cardiac disease.
We have also begun the use of a new technology, the Identafi® Oral Cancer Screening Device, to aid in the early detection of oral cancer. Studies show that approximately one American dies every hour from oral cancer. Early detection is a critical weapon against this disease.
The bottom line is our goal to keep our patients aware, and to contribute to a long and healthy life for each of you.