Do you know what inflammation is? Think red, think swollen, think heat. Like when you roll your ankle and it swells up like a balloon. Inflammation is the body trying to heal. Inflammation is also a sign that something is wrong. These signs should not be ignored. I recently received an update from AAOSH (American Academy of Oral Systemic Health) and am including part of their newsletter because they point out how the mouth and the body are connected and that treating periodontal disease, or gum disease, in the mouth can help the rest of the body: "The mouth is, was and forever will be is part of the body. The old model in traditional medicine of treating symptoms and body parts in isolation, is flawed. Pioneers in functional medicine like Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Mike Roisen, Dr. Axe, Dr. Fuhrman, Dr. Amy Doneen, Dr. Brad Bale, and a host of others are leading the charge in functional medicine. They do not ask questions like “what do we have,” but rather “why do we have it.” They understand that the body parts and organ systems are connected via the bloodstream, the lymphatic system, the endocrine system, the gastrointestinal system, the nervous system, the immune system –separation of organ systems and body parts does not exist. They understand that what happens in one part of the body, affects the entire being. The mouth is just one example, albeit a very potent one. In order to get to the basis of inflammation, which is a key driver of metabolic syndrome, one must address all sources of inflammation in the body. The most common site of inflammation, the most easily observed, and importantly -the easiest to treat, is periodontal inflammation. Periodontal disease is not a local disease, as it is often treated. For instance, evidence suggests that “periodontal changes are the first clinical manifestation of diabetes,” And “evidence indicates that periodontitis is a significant risk factor for poor glycemic control” (these quotes are from Relationship Between Oral Health and Diabetes Mellitus, October 2008, Lamster Et al.). In clinical practice, we are guilty of overlooking a host of other oral signs of diabetes beyond gingival/periodontal changes, such is salivary dysfunction, candidiasis, taste interference, neurosensory disorders, and oral infections. Enamel changes are often the first clinical manifestation of silent reflux. Periodontal pathogens and the subsequent inflammatory mediators go off site throughout the entire body as is referenced in a variety of scientific, peer-reviewed literature. The consequences of periodontal disease are widespread and often devastating. To ignore this premise and the emerging research is putting our patient’s health and possibly their lives at risk..." You don't know if you have gum disease? Statistically speaking, 48% of adults over 30 and 73% of adults over 65 have some form of gum disease. If you are an adult, and especially if you are having general health problems, I would suggest a thorough periodontal, or gum, evaluation by a qualified hygienist to see if you have any inflammation that can be "KNOCKED OUT!"