DNA testing proves that a person has over 800 species of bacteria in the human mouth, and many of them can wreak havoc on a person's health. But according to Charles Martin DDS, founder of the Richmond Smile Center (www.richmondsmilecenter.com), most people are unaware that the condition of their teeth can affect the health of their entire bodies - and Dr. Martin is determined to get the word out.
More and more research studies are confirming what many physicians and dentists have long suspected: Poor oral health can lead to systemic health problems and diseases. The list of conditions linked to periodontitis (gum disease) reads like a who's-who of disease, including systemic inflammation, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, obesity, chronic kidney disease, lung disease, cancer, osteoporosis, ulcers, arthritis, sleep apnea and snoring, and even serious pregnancy complications.
To help raise awareness of the oral-systemic link, Dr. Martin recently released Are Your Teeth Killing You(ISBN 978-1-59932-179-0, BarberCosby, available from Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and RichmondSmileCenter.com), a book that helps families understand how poor oral health contributes to poor health throughout the body. The problem is so under-publicized and so serious, says Dr. Martin, that he's hoping more dentists and physicians will help educate the public as well.
"The majority of Americans have gum disease and don't even know it if they aren't receiving regular dental check-ups," Dr. Martin stated. "It is a serious warning sign that things aren't right elsewhere in the body, but it's a sign most people don't even know to look for. We need to change that."
American medicine has only recently officially begun to connect the dots between gum disease and systemic health problems. The first joint conference between the American Medical Association and the American Dental Association, titled "Oral and Systemic Health: Exploring the Connection," occurred in 2006. Dr. Martin, however, had already spent years studying the connection himself, and the emerging research only served to confirm his theory.
"My theory, based on years of study and direct observation of my dental patients, is that proper dental care can help patients cut their risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, cancer or having low birth-weight babies. It can also have a positive effect on patients with ulcers, sleep apnea and obesity," Dr. Martin explained. "Many of the diseases linked to periodontitis are also diseases that require behavioral changes if people want to live the healthiest, most enjoyable lives possible. To make those changes, they must understand the risks they face by not taking action. Gum disease, tooth decay, bleeding gums and poor dental health aren't just about the mouth anymore. These affect your whole body, your energy levels, how good you feel and how long you live."
About Richmond Smile Center and Charles Martin DDS
Founded by Dr. Charles W. Martin, the Richmond Smile Center is a technologically advanced dental practice that delivers dental implant surgery, dental sedation, cosmetic dentistry and complex care dentistry. The Center is renowned for its smile makeovers. Dr. Martin, a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry, is a Master in the Academy of General Dentistry, Diplomat of the American Board of Oral Implantology/Implant Dentistry and has taught at Georgetown University and the Medical College of Virginia. He is also the author of Don't Sugar Coat It: The Story of Diabetes and Dentistry and This Won't Hurt a Bit!: The Smart Consumer's Guide to Dentistry.