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Inflammation May Link Gum Disease to Other Illnesses

Comprehensive daily oral care includes brushing after meals, flossing twice a day and routine dental visits to avoid gum disease. Now, not only dentists, but also physicians understand the importance of maintaining oral health in an effort to keep the rest of the body healthy. Ongoing research studies, including one published by the American Society for Microbiology entitled Systemic Diseases Caused by Oral Infection, suggest a link between periodontal disease and other systemic inflammatory disorders, including heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and some cancers. Scientists are finding that chronic inflammation is most likely the link connecting gum disease with many systemic health problems.

Inflammation is the body’s instinctive reaction to fight infection and to prevent injury. The inflammatory response initially heals the body, but then can lead to severe complications. According to Scott Fertik, DDS, a periodontist in Providence, periodontal disease is a classic example of such a disorder. While plaque accumulation is still a factor in the progression of gum disease, researchers suspect that swollen, bleeding gums, recession and bone loss near the teeth may be caused by the chronic inflammation response to the bacterial infection rather than from the bacteria itself.

If gum disease develops, a periodontal consultation is in order. Periodontists are dentists with three additional years of surgical training in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the gums and oral cavity.

For more information on treatment and prevention and risk factors, visit PeriodonticsRI.com or Perio.org. Scott Fertik, DDS, practices at Periodontics Inc., located at 167 Gano St., Providence. See Community Resoure Guide, pg ??