CHICAGO, March 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Inspired by today's National Diabetes Alert, thousands of Americans will resolve to reduce their risk for diabetes by losing weight and increasing their physical activity however, thousands more are still unaware that neglecting their oral health can also promote the onset of the disease, according to recent research. "Dental hygienists want Americans to understand that neglecting oral infection such as gum disease and gingivitis may promote the onset of numerous life-threatening illnesses including heart disease, stroke and diabetes," said Karla Girts, BSDH, president of the American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA). Last year, Surgeon General, David Satcher, MD, PhD, issued a comprehensive report confirming a connection between poor oral health and systemic diseases. According to Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General, poor oral health is most often characterized by gum disease, which affects 75 percent of adults. "Advanced gum disease, foamy saliva and dry and irritated tissue inside the mouth are all telltale signs that a patient may be suffering from diabetes," Girts explained. "Dental hygienists have consistently articulated a message warning Americans that chronic infections in the mouth are serious because they reflect what is going on in the rest of the body," Girts points out. However, it is only within the last two decades that the medical and scientific communities have improved their understanding of the etiology and distribution of oral diseases, strengthening this message put forth by oral health care professionals, Girts said. Today, physicians routinely consider a dual diagnosis of gum disease and diabetes as factors in patients who have trouble controlling their diabetes. In fact, a recent study concluded that diabetic patients who received treatment for their gum disease also showed a reduction in the need for insulin. Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States last year; the disease attributed to the deaths of 198,140 Americans, according to data gathered by the American Diabetes Association. ADHA is the largest national organization representing the professional interests of more than 100,000 dental hygienists nationwide. Dental hygienists are preventive oral health professionals, licensed in dental hygiene, who provide education, clinical and therapeutic services that support total health through the promotion of optimal oral health. For reliable quick-hitting information concerning oral health care, ADHA online at www.adha.org provides a snapshot of Americans' oral health care habits.
SOURCE American Dental Hygienists' Association