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Get a grip on periodontal disease before it causes damage

Drs. Oz and Roizen discuss the perils of not taking proper care of periodontal disease.
BY MICHAEL ROIZEN, M.D., AND MEHMET OZ, M.D., For The Oklahoman Published: August 19, 2014

Q: I've been diagnosed with periodontal disease. I want to reverse it ASAP, because I hear it leads to more problems than just tooth decay. What's my next step?

— Kathy L., Eugene, Ore.

A: You're smart to want to get control of your oral health. Your timing is great, too; there's breakthrough research that's discovered a pretty simple way for you to reduce gum problems and cut your risk for several major diseases in the process.

Periodontal disease is an inflammatory gum disease that causes pockets to form between the gum and teeth, where food is trapped and provides fuel for infection; this can lead to jawbone erosion. The inflammation affects your whole body. It's associated with everything from bad breath and tooth loss to Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, memory loss, pneumonia and even cancer. Some research shows that men with gum disease are 54 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer and 49 percent more likely to have kidney cancer. And women are probably at a similar risk.

Up to now, most treatments focused on improving oral hygiene (flossing at least once and brushing at least twice a day) and often your dental professional would prescribe antibiotics. But the latest research makes it clear that the smart move is to attack the inflammation.

Start by taking 2,000 mg of DHA omega-3 every day for three months along with low-dose aspirin (81 mg to 162 mg — ask your doc if it's OK for you). That shrinks gum pockets and reduces measurable levels of two inflammation markers (C-reactive protein and interleukin-1 beta) in gum tissue. Aspirin, taken along with DHA, makes omega-3s more useable by the body. (We think all men 35 and older and women 45 and up should talk to their doc about taking 162 mg of aspirin daily with a half a glass warm water before and after.)

Also, improve your oral hygiene; eliminate inflammatory foods — added sugars and syrups, refined grains, red meat — and get at least 30 minutes of added physical activity a day. Soon you'll be smiling more, and so will your dentist.

Q: I think working in my office five days a week is unproductive and unhealthy. I'm sitting all day — stressed and eating badly — and I'm constantly interrupted. If I worked from home a few days a week, I could be more productive and healthier. How can I convince my boss it's a good idea not just for me, but for the company?

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