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Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body:

Periodontal Disease Facts You Need to Know

While proper oral hygiene can keep teeth and gums healthy, it can also aid in achieving continued optimal health for the rest of the body. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, the connection between bacteria and plaque in the mouth and other health issues, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disorders and even cancer and Alzheimer’s, is becoming more recognized every day.


People with diabetes are more susceptible to infections and, therefore, have a higher likelihood of periodontal disease. It’s actually considered a complication of diabetes, especially if blood sugar is uncontrolled.

Cardiovascular Disease

Studies have shown that the inflammation caused by periodontal disease may increase the risk of heart disease and stroke and exacerbate existing heart conditions.

Respiratory Disease

The bacteria associated with periodontal disease can lead to pneumonia and other respiratory illness when the bacteria are breathed into the lungs.


According to research studies, males with gum disease are 49% more likely to develop kidney cancer, 54% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer and 30% more likely to develop blood cancers.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Studies have shown that the bacteria produced by periodontal disease may actually be able to travel to the brain and contribute to the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.


Visiting a dental specialist regularly, along with proper home oral care, is critical in keeping periodontal disease at bay and also for maintaining teeth and gum health for the length of our lives.

“Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease and as the disease progresses, that inflammation both destroys the periodontal attachment and eventually the bone holding the teeth in,” says Dr. Philip Shindler of Family & Cosmetic Dentistry in Agoura Hills.

“As the periodontal disease worsens, the bone loss worsens, and it also gets into the bloodstream and those inflammatory markers are what is being shown to cause the other associated problems. The plaque in our mouths is the accumulation of bacteria and bacterial byproducts, and those bacteria are what cause inflammation which can then affect the lining of the blood vessels leading to the accumulation of plaque in the arteries and the heart.”

When coming in for an initial cleaning at Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, the first plan of action is to check for periodontal disease by measuring the pocket depths between the tooth and the gum. The bigger the depth, the more advanced the disease. If a patient has no signs of periodontal disease, and is in good health, the teeth will be cleaned and the patient will be advised to maintain a twice a year cleaning regimen.

However, if a patient has periodontal disease, a deep cleaning, which is done under a local anesthetic, will be scheduled. After that, they will set up a maintenance program which typically involves three cleanings a year, but can be four to six cleanings depending on the level of home care and body chemistry.

“These cleanings are more involved and extensive than regular cleanings,” says Dr. Shindler. “We have to keep measuring because periodontal disease can come and go. People may have an active phase and a more quiescent phase and they have to be monitored. If we are not able to maintain them, at some point they may need a referral for more involved surgical care.”

At home, he advises, patients should practice a combination of brushing, flossing, using a Waterpik® or similar device and prescribed molecular iodine rinses that can aid in controlling inflammation. If using over-the-counter rinses, he says you want to look for an alcohol-free product since alcohol dries out the mouth and can actually cause more issues such as plaque and tartar buildup.

A native of South Africa, Dr. Shindler has been practicing medicine since 1981 and opened Family & Cosmetic Dentistry in 1987. He explains that he has spent thousands of hours in continued education courses and is always at the forefront of new techniques and equipment.

“We have the technology, and we have the knowledge,” he says. “Everything is done at a high level. The big thing that patients understand about me is that I really enjoy dentistry.”

The people on his staff, he adds, are also very dedicated and many have been with him for many years. With warm and caring personalities, the doctor and staff have built close relationships with patients and have treated generations of families. Family & Cosmetic Dentistry welcomes patients of all ages and always focuses on providing the best level of care available.

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