The dental profession is undergoing a dramatic increase in its understanding of disease processes and mechanisms, including the interaction between oral and systemic diseases and conditions. Many of these advances are the result of new research techniques. The link between oral conditions, most notably periodontal diseases, and systemic events is accepted in the dental and medical professions. Ongoing research efforts will shed more light on these associations as well as the potential impact of periodontal therapy on the body.
The common thread between the mouth and body is inflammation. Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection resulting in a chronic inflammatory response. David L. Cochran, president of the AAP, indicates that the inflammatory mediators in periodontitis are the same ones that stimulate pathologic processes in blood vessels in coronary heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and pregnancy complications. With this level of commonality, disease linkages make perfect sense.
For more on this topic, go to www.dentaleconomics.com and search using the following key words: oral-systemic connection, periodontal disease, Richard H. Nagelberg, DDS.