A letter to all patients about the link between good oral hygiene and overall health.

Dear Patients:

I once saw a patient who left a dental infection untreated which resulted in life-threatening infections of his heart and intestines that required several surgeries and a lengthy hospital stay. He asked me to inform my patients of this event and how committed he now is about receiving regular dental care.

We all need to see the dental hygienist on a regular basis. These visits can help prevent the kind of serious systemic problems caused by poor dental health.

After two decades of research, it has been firmly established that an association exists between periodontal [gum] disease and cardiovascular disease.  Journal of the American Dental Association, Vol. 137, October 2006

In recent years, evidence has come forth supporting the notion that localized infectious diseases such as periodontal [gum] disease may indeed influence a number of systemic diseases. This view holds that bacteria from dental plaque enter the blood stream through …the oral tissues and travel through the blood to cause infection at a distant site…. A number of studies suggest that periodontal disease is associated with diseases resulting from atherosclerosis, lung disease such as pneumonia and COPD, and adverse pregnancy outcomes.  Dental Clinics of North America, 49 (2005) 533-550

The separation between oral health and general health is artificial because the mouth is an integral part of the human body….Oral health status affects general health.  General Dentistry, March-April 2004

Cognitive impairment, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer, stroke, and arthritis may also be influenced by poor dental health according to the American Academy of Periodontology.

This is such an important issue that I want to encourage you to see the hygienist regularly. Let these health professionals help protect your overall systemic health by keeping your gums and teeth healthy. Please consider how consistent home dental care and regular dental visits can assist in your overall health.


Danny D. Poore, D.D.S.