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Gum Disease a Risk Factor for Heart Disease?

By Lee R. Cohen, D.D.S., M.S., M.S.

Gum DiseaseOver the past number of years, more and more research studies have been discussing the possible link between periodontal disease (gum and jaw bone disease) and other significant medical conditions. Periodontal disease includes a number of conditions ranging from Gingivitis (swollen gums) to Periodontitis (the loss of jaw bone that can lead to tooth loss). Some of the studies have started to link periodontal disease to more broad medical issues such as cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases.

A recent study reported in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology (April 9, 2014) discussed periodontal disease as a possible risk factor for cardiovascular disease.  The article summarized a very large study of patients (15,828 patients) from 39 countries with cardiac disease.  It is believed to be the largest known study evaluating gum disease in patients with coronary disease.

The study reported more risk factors and biological indicators for cardiovascular disease with patients demonstrating increased tooth loss and bleeding gums.  In short, the report suggests that there may be a link between periodontal disease and coronary disease. At this point, it has not been proven that there is a direct “cause and effect” relationship between the 2 diseases.  Many studies have demonstrated a relationship between gum and heart illnesses.

What Can You Do?
It is important to continually (once or twice a year) see your dentist or periodontist for a complete periodontal evaluation. This painless examination includes measuring around the teeth to determine if the gums are inflamed or if jaw bone loss is occurring.  A recent, complete set of dental x-rays are also used to help determine if the disease is present.  A prominent national study demonstrated that gum disease is much more common than we used to believe.  It has been shown that over 50% of people over the age of 30 have some form of periodontal disease.

Should it be determined that you have periodontal disease, a variety of forms of treatment are available.  Earlier forms of the disease may be treated with periodontal maintenance (“cleanings”).  More advanced forms often are treated with conventional procedures or more recently LANAP (laser therapy).  The overall goal of any periodontal therapy is to help maintain health, keep your teeth and hopefully prevent an increased risk for other medical issues such as cardiac disease.

Lee R. Cohen, D.D.S., M.S., M.S., is a Dual Board Certified Periodontal and Dental Implant Surgeon.  He is a graduate of Emory University and New York University College of Dentistry.Dr. Cohen completed his surgical training at the University of Florida / Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida.  He served as Chief Resident and currently holds a staff appointment as a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Periodontics and Dental Implantology.  Dr. Cohen lectures, teaches and performs clinical research on topics related to his surgical specialty.

The focus of his interests are conservative approaches to treating gum, bone and tooth loss.  He utilizes advanced techniques including the use of the Periolase Dental Laser (LANAP procedure) to help save teeth and treat periodontal disease without the use of traditional surgical procedures.  Additionally, he uses in-office, state of the art 3D CT imaging to develop the least invasive dental implant and bone regeneration treatment options.  Dr. Cohen and his facility are state certified to perform both IV and Oral Sedation procedures.  Botox® and Dermal Fillers are also utilized to enhance patients’ cosmetic outcomes.

Dr. Cohen currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the American Academy of Periodontology and formerly the Florida Dental Association.  He is past president of the Florida Association of Periodontists and the Atlantic Coast District Dental Association.  Dr. Cohen is a member of the American Academy of Facial Esthetics.  In addition, he has been awarded Fellowship in the American College of Dentists, International College of Dentists and the Pierre Fauchard Academy.

Lee R. Cohen, D.D.S., M.S., M.S.
4520 Donald Ross Road, Suite 110
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
Phone: 561-691-0020
www.pbcperio.com

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