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Your body can’t be healthy unless your mouth is healthy. In fact, dental care is medically necessary. Previous research linked gum disease with diabetes, low birth weight babies, and heart disease. Current research shows that gum disease may have even more of an impact on overall health than previously thought. As an inflammatory disease, gum disease is linked to other disease states, including: upper respiratory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and prostate disease .Other research points to possible links between gum disease and anemia. Poor oral care also has been associated with memory loss and dementia, with researchers determining that persons with the least number of natural teeth were at higher risk of memory loss and early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Dental disease affects all age groups- children, adults and seniors; and affects African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, children, poor people, and the elderly disproportionately. Fortunately, tooth decay is preventable. Education is the key to prevention; and early detection can eliminate pain, millions of hours missed from school and work, and in the worst case scenario—death.

All Americans will benefit from the Affordable Care Act and are encouraged to enroll as quickly as possible. Millions will be able to access health care and preventive services, including over 5 million children who will be eligible for dental benefits. For adults who are diagnosed with diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, or who already have knee, hip or joint replacements; and for all of those who are scheduled for surgical procedures, a dental exam is mandatory. Physicians are now requiring a dental exam and dentist’s clearance prior to surgery as a standard of care.

Follow these basic steps to better dental health:

1. Brush your teeth and gums with a soft bristled tooth brush for 2 minutes twice a day

2. Floss once a day

3. Visit your dental provider at least every six months

4. Include dental care as necessary step to improving overall health and immune system

5. Visit to locate a dentist near you.