Growing Link Between Gum Disease, Heart Disease and Other Chronic Illness Leads Minnesota Dentists to Launch New Education Campaign


Sep 13, 2011, 12:32 ET from Minnesota Dental Association

MINNEAPOLIS, Sept. 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Recognizing the growing body of research showing a strong connection between a healthy mouth and a healthy body, the Minnesota Dental Association has launched a patient education campaign to help patients understand the connection and how to assess their own risk.

Called Healthy Gums, Healthy You, the campaign explains how a healthy mouth can be linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes and pregnancy complications. It also explains what patients can do to keep their gums healthy, even into adulthood, and includes a simple online risk assessment tool to assess an individual's risk.

"We know the mouth is the gateway to the body," said Michael Zakula, DDS, president of the Minnesota Dental Association and an orthodontist in Hibbing, Minnesota. "With growing evidence that gum disease can put people at risk for severe health complications, we want our patients to understand how they can assess their own risk and what they can do to both recognize the warning signs and prevent them."

Gum disease begins when a sticky biofilm, called plaque, forms on teeth and can start to irritate gums. If it is not removed daily through brushing and flossing, gum tissues can start to weaken.

Patients can assess their own risk through an online risk assessment tool which can be found at: Warning signs include gums that bleed when brushed or flossed, persistent bad breath and gums that have receded from teeth.

Growing evidence shows that mouth bacteria can enter the blood stream, potentially attaching to blood vessels. This can increase the risk for heart disease, artery blockage and stroke. Gum disease is also a leading complication of diabetes and is linked to increased risk during pregnancy for premature or low birth weight babies.

To avoid the risk of gum disease, Minnesota dentists offer these suggestions:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day.
  • Clean between teeth daily with floss or a similar cleaner to sweep away plaque.
  • Keep a regular schedule of teeth cleanings at the dentist. More frequent professional cleaning to remove tartar along the gum line helps to treat early forms of gum disease.
  • Tell your dentist about changes in your health.

The Minnesota Dental Association is the voice of dentistry in Minnesota, representing 80% of practicing dentists. It is committed to the highest standards of oral health and access to care for all Minnesotans. Learn more at:

SOURCE Minnesota Dental Association