Hundreds of years ago it was the barber who treated teeth. Then the body of knowledge grew to create the dental profession. Today, you usually think of the dentist as the doctor who handles teeth and gums. But so much recent evidence is pouring in – to not only increase our knowledge but to change the way we think in how diseases in the mouth affect the body – that the dentist may enter a new role in the future.

That role is to aid in reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, COPD, and cancer. How? By preventing and treating periodontal disease.

Patients with heart disease, stroke, diabetes, COPD, and cancer have increased levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in their blood. CRP is an indicator of widespread inflammation in the body. Physicians agree that measuring levels of CRP is important in evaluating the risks to these diseases as well as monitoring their success in treatment. In fact CRP levels were found to be more accurate in predicting heart issues than cholesterol levels.

Current research indicates that periodontal disease contributes to increased levels of CRP. Periodontal disease is infection in the gums that produces oral bacterial byproducts that enter the blood stream and trigger the liver to make proteins.

Treating periodontal disease reduces the CRP levels and it is believed is as important in reducing the risk to systemic diseases as is weight control, exercise, and not smoking. Of all the ways to keep your body healthy and reducing the risk to systemic diseases, getting your teeth cleaned every three months (instead of the traditional six months) is by far the easiest for individuals and perhaps one of the best.