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A variety of healthcare professionals have begun to look toward dental health as a marker for diseases affecting the entire body.
Gum disease, for example, has been linked to a number of health problems, including those affecting the heart, the Gainsville Times reports.
The same bacteria that are involved in periodontal disease can enter the bloodstream and travel to the heart. Further research is needed to determine the precise relationship at play, but doctors and dentists are aware that the two conditions are connected.
Cardiologist Dr Bernardine King told the news provider that when she is assessing a patient, she will often consider their dental health as part of their overall health.
"When we treat the heart, we look at the whole patient [including the teeth]. We do communicate with dentists as much as possible," she explained.
In addition, a dentist may contact a physician if they find any indications of other health problems while providing dental care.
Gum disease and other dental health problems have also been associated with diabetes and low birth-weight babies.
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