CHICAGO – August 15, 2000 – Oral health is often a good indicator of what is happening in the rest of the body. Therefore, a visit to a periodontist may benefit more than an older person’s gums.
According to a recent online poll about patients over age 60 conducted by the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), periodontists often refer their patients to medical doctors for serious health problems. Of the 173 periodontists polled, 78 percent said they have referred patients to medical doctors to evaluate for diabetes, 66 percent have referred patients for a cardiovascular disease evaluation and 21 percent for osteoporosis based on their exam of the patient. One respondent wrote in that if he notices a skin lesion on the face or neck he notes it and encourages the patient to see a dermatologist for a skin evaluation.
|Have you ever referred a patient to a medical doctor to evaluate for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and/or osteoporosis?
“It is good to see that so many periodontists are referring their patients to physicians when patients exhibit conditions consistent with diabetes or cardiovascular disease,” said Jack Caton, D.D.S., M.S., president of the AAP.
Periodontists report more than half of older patients do not understand taking certain medications may affect the health of their mouth. For example, many medications, including diuretics, may reduce salivary flow. Dry mouth can cause increased plaque buildup, which increases the risk for periodontal disease. In addition, some calcium channel blockers may cause the gums to grow over the teeth. “I recommend older patients take a list of medications they are taking with them to their periodontists,” said Caton.
The majority of periodontists reported that most of their older patients believe they can keep their natural teeth for a lifetime. They also said their older patients are concerned with the aesthetic look of their smile. However, their older patients are less likely than younger patients are to have cosmetic periodontal surgery.
A referral to a periodontist in your area and free brochure samples are available by calling 800-FLOSS-EM or visiting the AAP’s Web site at www.perio.org.
About the AAP
The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) is the professional organization for periodontists—specialists in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases affecting the gums and supporting structures of the teeth, and in the placement of dental implants. Periodontists are also dentistry’s experts in the treatment of oral inflammation. They receive three additional years of specialized training following dental school, and periodontics is one of the nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association. The AAP has 8,000 members worldwide.
For more information, contact the AAP Public Affairs Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312/573-3242.
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