Know Your Role and Open Your Mouth
For the most
part, people hate the dreaded twice-a-year appointment with the
dentist. Whether it’s cavities, gingivitis, root canals, etc.,
there always seems to be a risk of pain involved when you step into the
various reasons, including the ones listed above, many Americans
don’t go to the dentist as often as they should. Unfortunately,
they are the ones missing out on the numerous benefits of a dental
checkup, benefits that few knew about until recently.
“Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General,”
which was commissioned in 1997 by HHS Secretary Donna Shalala, signs
and symptoms of life-threatening diseases appear in the mouth far
before any other area of the body. Oral health professionals look for
signs to conditions such as oral cancer, diabetes, eating disorders and
HIV during regular checkups.
importance of a regular checkup is significant when considering the
relationship between the mouth and other parts of the body. For
example, periodontal (gum) disease in the mouth has been linked to the
development of serious illnesses and conditions like heart disease,
respiratory ailments and pre-term, low birth-weight babies. When a
primary bacteria is found in the mouth with periodontal disease, it can
enter the blood stream and spread throughout the body, which can infect
the heart, inflame coronary arteries, clot blood, and change blood
pressure and heart rate.
percent of American adults have some sort of periodontal disease
without even knowing the silent, painless infection is present.
Prophylaxis, a regular, professional cleaning, is the only way to keep
gum disease under control.
The following five medical conditions can be detected by a dentist before they become serious to the rest of the body.
Oral cancer - More common than leukemia, skin melanoma, Hodgkin’s
disease, and cancers of the brain, liver, bone, thyroid gland, stomach,
ovaries, and cervix, oral cancer is caused by lengthy tobacco and
alcohol use. If caught in the early stages it can be treated 90 percent
of the time, but can spread to other parts of the body with less chance
of detection if not caught early.
Heart disease - Cardiovascular disease affects 85 million Americans and
kills a million per year. Studies have shown that patients with gum
disease are twice as likely to develop heart disease, and p.
gingivalis, a primary bacteria in periodontal disease, can enter the
bloodstream and cause conditions that lead to heart attacks and
Diabetes - 95 percent of Americans with diabetes have periodontal
disease and those with periodontal disease have more difficulty
controlling their blood sugar level. Severe periodontal disease also
can increase the risk of developing diabetes.
Respiratory Ailments - Bacteria associated with periodontal disease can
travel from the mouth to the respiratory system where it may aggravate
or cause respiratory diseases.
Premature, low birth-weight babies - Expectant mothers with periodontal
disease are seven times more likely to deliver premature, low
birth-weight babies than women who don’t have the disease.
Bacterial infections accelerate the production of labor-inducing fluids
and can result in pre-term births.
Address: The Prudential Insurance Company of America, 751 Broad Street, Prudential Plaza, Newark, NJ 07102; (201) 802-6000.