Jimenez is scheduled to present the findings Saturday at the International Association for Dental Research general session in Miami Beach, Fla.
The findings build on previous research, said David Cochran, president of the American Academy of Periodontology and chairman of the Department of Periodontics at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio.
"It's been known that diabetics' gum disease is worse," he said. There have been other associations uncovered, such as heart disease and gum disease and gum disease and cancer risk in men. In a previous study, researchers found a link between obesity and gum disease in younger people.
>Gum diseases include a mild form called gingivitis, in which gums bleed easily. But that can progress to periodontitis, in which bacteria in the plaque irritate the gums and provoke an inflammatory response, according to the American Academy of Periodontology.
The common denominator may be inflammation, Cochran said. "Periodontal inflammation and inflammation throughout the body are very much associated with one another," he said.
While the new studies don't prove cause-and-effect, Cochran said it's reason enough to recommend a heart-healthy diet that's also good for your gums.
To assess your risk of gum disease, visit the American Academy of Periodontology.
SOURCES: Monik Jimenez, doctoral candidate, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston; David Cochran, D.D.S., Ph.D., president, American Academy of Periodontology, and professor and chairman, department of periodontics, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio; April 4, 2009, presentation, Interna
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