Health problems linked with state of the gums

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Gingivitis is caused by bacteria found in dental plaque.
Gingivitis is caused by bacteria found in dental plaque.
The relationship between dental and medical health has been spotlighted in several recent research- and policy-oriented developments. At issue is how other diseases are affected by periodontal disease, a chronic inflammatory condition that destroys the bone and tissues supporting the teeth.
  • An ongoing study of 1,137 men who had been followed for an average of 24 years has shown a significant association between periodontal bone loss and the incidence of stroke or transient ischemic attack—particularly among men younger than age 65 years. The study was published online ahead of print in Annals of Neurology.
  • A recent report in the Journal of Periodontology (2009;80:535-540) describes a small trial in which 40 people suffering from gum disease and a severe form of rheumatoid arthritis experienced reductions in arthritic pain, number of swollen joints, and degree of morning stiffness once their periodontitis was cured. Like periodontitis, rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory condition. 
  • The American Journal of Cardiology worked with the American Academy of Periodontology on joint clinical recommendations that encourage cardiologists and periodontists to unite to promote patient health (www.perio.org /consumer/perio_cardio.htm, accessed July 16, 2009). The recommendations state that patients with periodontitis and one known major risk factor for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease should consider a medical evaluation if they have not undergone one in the preceding 12 months.
  • The CDC issued new information on periodontal disease and the agency's latest efforts to address the problem (www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/publications/aag/doh.htm, accessed July 16, 2009). “Recent studies point to associations between [gum disease] and diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and preterm, low-weight births,” the agency notes.
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