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Sign of Heart Trouble -- or Gum Disease?

High CRP? Call the Dentist
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Jan. 22, 2004 -- If your blood test says you're at high risk of heart disease, it might be wise to call your dentist.

CRP -- C-reactive protein -- is a marker for low-grade inflammation in the blood vessels, a mechanism in the development of hardening of the arteries. It's also an early warning of gum disease, a Japanese study shows.

Yuko Takami and colleagues at Aichi-Gakuin University School of Dentistry, Nagoya, Japan, analyzed data from 7,452 people who had both medical and dental checkups. They found that both men and women with high CRP levels tended to have serious gum disease.

"If the blood test detected certain 'red flags,' the person also had serious symptoms of periodontal disease," Takami said in a news release. The findings appear in the December 2003 issue of the Journal of Periodontology.

If your doctor tells you your CRP levels are high, you might want to call your dentist before seeing a cardiologist.

A study in an earlier issue of the JOP showed that treating gum disease significantly lowered CRP levels.

"These findings mean that in the future, when patients visit their medical doctors for a routine checkup and annual blood work, they may also be referred to a periodontist for a periodontal screening if the blood indicates systemic abnormalities," Michael P. Rethman, DDS, president of the American Academy of Periodontology, said in a news release.

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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