The following article was written by Dr. Gary Fishbein, D.M.D, from Lillian, Alabama who is also one of the Crown Council cosmetic dentists, a leading international organization of dentists.  His article is shared below with permission in the interest of providing a helpful perspective about the link between your dental heatlh and your overall health.

We often times take our bodies for granted. And yes, your mouth is part of your body. Why is this important? Just ask me because I had triple bypass surgery ten years ago.

But it wasn’t my mouth that was the culprit, just genetics. But your mouth could be part of some of your health problems like heart disease and diabetes. Here’s how.

Let’s talk about heart disease. We all know one culprit is cholesterol. But what we don’t know is that for cholesterol to affect us we need it to stick to our arterial walls and for that stuff called plaque to form requires INFLAMMATION. Ironically, we also call the build up in our mouth “plaque”. In our arteries it starts out soft, just like in the mouth, then hardens and clogs our arteries. In our mouth it becomes what most people call “tartar”.

So what, I have tartar in my mouth. Well, that stuff is like barnacles on a piling. Bacteria are living in it like fish in a coral reef. Yes, barnacles are full of bacteria. Ask me, I know because I had hand surgery to remove an infection I got cleaning my boat bottom.

Why did my hand swell?  I had infection and INFLAMMATION, just like in the mouth. And inflammation is the real culprit in heart disease.  You see, cholesterol won’t stick to the wall of your arteries unless there is inflammation, just like in gum disease.

We now have cultured bacteria from the mouth from infected heart arteries. So, if you have inflammation in your mouth from gum disease, chances are you have inflammation in your heart arteries.

Now, about your cholesterol test. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Most are tested for the Good, HDL, the bad, LDL, but not the ugly. The ugly is really “uglies” because LDL can be good or bad. The good LDL is a large molecule with low energy and is like a ping pong ball, it bounces off the artery wall, if you will. The bad LDL, is a small,high energy molecule, that penetrates the arterial wall, causing INFLAMMATION, and the formation of plaque that clogs our arteries. The bad LDL is genetic. It’s what I have. But it can be controlled.

The other part of the ugly is INFLAMMATION. Fortunately, we can test for it. It’s called “C-reactive Protein”. There is even a medicine for it called Cerefolin-NAC. That stands for “a folic acid vitamin” plus N-Acetyl Cystein. When my doctor first told me about it she said it has a long name most people never heard of. I said, “Oh, you mean N-Acetyl Cystein”. She said “how’d you know?” I said , “duh, when I was a body builder ten years ago before my heart surgery, we always took NAC to recover from a hard work out because it reduces INFLAMMATION.” I’m glad medicine has caught up with body builders.

Our diabetic patients are amazed when I look in their mouth and tell them their insulin is out of control. How’d you know? Look at your gums, they are swollen, red, and bleeding with that yucky stuff coming out. Yes, gum disease, diabetes, and heart disease are all related.

So why am I writing this article? So you can better understand heart disease, your mouth, and in the hopes you will visit your dentist and find out if you have gum disease and get it treated. You don’t have to have surgery. We treat gum disease with removal of the hard deposits and then with our Laser to help re-grow lost bone. Yes, we get you numb ’cause it hurts if you are not numb. With the Laser we don’t usually have to numb you.

We offer free gum disease screening exams in our office here in Lillian at Palmetto Creek Dental and hope you are caring for your mouth. Thank you for reading this article and we hope you have a healthy, happy mouth and heart.

Free gum disease screening exams are also available at Gordon West DDS. Contact us for a free initial dental consultation in Lafayette, CO. We are committed to helping you enjoy a healthy and beautiful smile. However, we also know a healthy smile can contribute to your overall health.