“Imagine what (smoking) could do to your teeth,” went an old slogan advertising a brand of smoker’s toothpaste. (The advertisement conveniently failed to mention the effects of smoking on the heart and lungs.) Dental researchers today might well lay claim to a reverse version of that ad: “Imagine what unhealthy teeth and gums could do to you.”
That’s because what a lot of people don’t know, and a lot of dentists are finding out, is that your teeth and gums may influence disease throughout your entire body. Researchers have found strong links between unhealthy mouths and everything from pre-term birth, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, pneumonia and more.
“Our research supports the link between oral health and systemic disease,” says Denis Kinane, Professor of Periodontology and Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and UofL’s Delta-Dental endowed professor in the School of Dentistry. Kinane is part of a large team of UofL dental researchers exploring oral health by looking at larger issues such as the body’s immune system, genetics and environmental aspects such as smoking.
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