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As an increasing body of research has highlighted the connection between poor dental health and certain systemic diseases, the American Academy of Periodontology has made a statement about the importance of proper dental hygiene.
The group explains that a current theory is gaining ground which looks at the relationship between gum disease and inflammation - the body's natural reaction when faced with infection. Chronic inflammation can lead to a number of serious health conditions.
Former president of AAP Dr Susan Karabin said that current research has moved beyond a traditional model, in which plaque buildup was held solely responsible for gum disease.
"Researchers now suspect that the more severe symptoms ... may be caused by the chronic inflammatory response to the bacterial infection, rather than the bacteria itself," she explained.
The particular symptoms described by Karabin included swollen, bleeding gums; recession around the gum line; and loss of the bone that holds teeth in place.
She said that the findings of recent studies make it "more critical than ever" for people to seek dental care to prevent and treat gum disease.
The AAP has around 8,000 members from all 50 states and around the world.
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