Are you really as healthy as you think?

Puzzle Body

March 29, 2005 — Ottawa — In a recent public opinion survey conducted by the Canadian Dental Association (CDA), more than 90% of respondents described their oral health as good or better.

Yet, in that same survey, a full 1/3 reported that their gums bleed when they floss — a warning sign for gum disease. This discrepancy means that many Canadians have a false sense of security when it comes to oral health.

"Gum disease is a silent threat — you might not have any pain, or even know you have it — but it is the most common reason for tooth loss in adults," said CDA president Dr. Alfred Dean, adding "In addition to being a health problem on its own, periodontal (gum) disease is also connected to a number of other serious health concerns including heart diseases, diabetes and pre-term and low-birth-weight babies."

Researchers don't yet have all the answers, but one theory is that harmful bacteria lurk in "periodontal pockets" — the gulleys that form between teeth and unhealthy gum tissues. On occasion, these bacterial colonies are disrupted and enter the bloodstream — settling elsewhere in the body where they wreak their havock.

A recent study in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation, found a direct relationship between periodontal disease and atherosclerosis or thickening of the carotid arteries.

The good news is that gum diseases are entirely preventable, and good oral habits are likely to have overall health benefits: eating a healthy diet; not smoking; brushing and flossing daily and seeing your dentist regularly.

Oral Health - Good for Life

"During your dental exam, your dentist will look for early signs of gum disease and help you design an oral health routine that will keep it in check", said Dr. Dean. "April is oral health month — the perfect time to ask your dentist how you can keep your mouth healthy for life. After all, you can't be truly healthy without oral health."

National Oral Health Month ]

The Canadian Dental Association is the authoritative national voice of dentistry, dedicated to the representation and advancement of the profession, nationally and internationally, and to the achievement of optimal oral health.