Heart Disease, Cancer, Diabetes, Stroke Signs Can be Found in Mouth Says Atlanta Dentist

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Gums and teeth can predict serious health problems.

Predicators of serious medical conditions range from red, bleeding and swollen gums to tooth erosion and bad breath.

The old adage says the eyes are the windows to the soul but Atlanta dentist Dr. Peter V. Vanstrom said at an Atlanta public health seminar yesterday that gums and teeth can say a mouthful by predicting serious health problems.

“In many cases it is a dentist who is the first to identify early warning signs of serious health issues due to what they find during routine exams,” says Vanstrom, who is conducting a monthly series of health care seminars. He says that dentists not only can identify serious conditions such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and stroke, but can help prevent them as well.

“Predicators of serious medical conditions range from red, bleeding and swollen gums to tooth erosion and bad breath,” says Vanstrom. “For example the plaque that builds up on teeth can be an indication of heart disease. Bacteria in plaque are released into the blood system resulting in clogging of the arteries thus leading to heart conditions and stroke.”

Sore, red or swollen and bleeding gums could be the gum disease periodontitis, which can increase the risk of stroke or heart disease. “People with gum disease are at greater risk of having a stroke or even dementia or Alzheimer’s since it is an inflammation and inflammation in a person’s body causes dementia. He added that gingivitis, the gum disease that causes gums to recede, can release bacteria that can go to the brain and cause blood clots that cause strokes and dementia.

Sore and pale gums could also be an indicator of anemia which, if left untreated, causes severe fatigue, heart problems and even nerve damage said Vanstrom. “Leukemia may be detected by bright red, spongy or inflamed gums that bleed easily while inflamed gums may indicate kidney problems.”

Vanstrom also cautioned pregnant women to get regular dental checkups and perform good dental hygiene. “Women who have gum disease during pregnancy are more likely to have a baby that is premature or smaller than normal because inflammation can cause certain chemicals to be released into the mother’s bloodstream that affect weight and delivery,” he says.

Bad breath, gum inflammation and bone loss can also be indicators of diabetes. Vanstrom also urged patients to have their dentist check their mouths for signs of oral cancer. He said that dentists should carefully examine the back and side of their tongues. He said that people with Gingivitis have a higher chance of getting oral cancer.

“Not only do regular dental checkups keep gums and teeth healthy, but they can prevent the onset of other health problems,” explains Vanstrom, who recommends at least two visits to a dentist annually.

About Dr. Peter Vanstrom

Dr. Peter Vanstrom has owned and operated Artistic Dentistry of Atlanta since 1997. A solo comprehensive general dental practitioner, he graduated as Student Body President of Emory University School of Dentistry in 1988. A sought after national and international lecturer, he is listed as a Dentist of Distinction in the May 2005 issue of Jezebel Magazine and Top Dentist of 2009 in Atlanta Magazine. A frequent CNN commentator on dental health, he is one of the founding board members of the Georgia Association of Cosmetic Dentists. For additional information go to http://www.artisticdentistryofatlanta.com


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