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July 20, 2007 -MIAMI, BOCA RATON AND FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA- Visiting the dentist on a regular basis and brushing and flossing daily could do more than prevent cavities. These activities also could prevent heart attacks and strokes.

A recent study presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting suggests that the bacteria present in gum diseases may trigger blood clots which can contribute to a heart attack or stroke, according to the American Academy of Periodontology.

This finding has prompted Dr. Charles Nottingham, a cosmetic dentist at South Florida Cosmetic Dentistry Cosmetic Dentistry , which has offices in Broward County and Boca Raton , to educate his patients on the health risks of periodontal disease, also known as gum disease.

Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. It begins when the bacteria in plaque causes inflammation in the gums.

“Periodontal disease is one of the most common infections, and it can become a menace if left untreated,” Nottingham said. “I strongly encourage people with gum disease who are at risk for cardiovascular disease to seek out a dentist experienced in treating periodontal disease.”

Others risk factors that are thought to increase the risk, severity and speed of development of periodontal disease include tobacco use, general health conditions, medications, stress, genetics, hormonal changes and poor nutrition, according to the American Academy of Periodontology Web site.

Symptoms of periodontal disease may not appear until it reaches an advanced stage. That is why it is important to visit the dentist regularly and be screened by a professional, Nottingham said.

Signs of periodontal disease include:

  • Red, swollen or tender gums
  • Bleeding when brushing or flossing
  • Receding gums
  • Loose or separating teeth
  • Pus between the gum and the tooth
  • Chronic bad breath
  • A change in the way teeth fit together when biting
  • A change in the fit of partial dentures

Untreated gingivitis, the mildest for of periodontal disease, can advance to periodontitis, which is caused by plaque spreading and growing below the gum line. This further irritates the gums and breaks down the tissues and bone that support the teeth. If left untreated, teeth may loosen and have to be removed.

Periodontal disease does not need to advance to this stage, Nottingham said. Once a cosmetic dentist or periodontist detects the disease, it can be managed through regular screenings and evaluations, treatment and professional maintenance.

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Call South Florida Cosmetic Dentistry today or email us to schedule an appointment and learn more about treatments for periodontal disease.