Gum disease opens up the body to a host of infections | Science News

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Gum disease opens up the body to a host of infections

Mouth microbes have been implicated in a variety of ills, from arthritis to Alzheimer’s

By
9:00am, April 6, 2016
illustration of bacteria between teeth and gums

COMMUNITY BUILDING  With inadequate brushing and flossing, bacteria caught between the tooth and gum coalesce into a biofilm. Eventually, oral tissue can deteriorate, allowing bacteria to infect other parts of the body.

For centuries, the mouth and the body have been disconnected — at least when it comes to health care. Through the Middle Ages and beyond, teeth fell under the care of barbers, who could shave a customer and pull a molar with equal skill. In the 1700s, French surgeon Pierre Fauchard published the Treatise on Teeth, establishing dentistry as its own science.

Across the channel in England, as physicians gained stature in the 19th century, surgeons and dentists engaged in a power struggle. In the modern United States, after medicine became linked to employer insurance and Medicare, the fissure between medicine and dentistry widened. Insurance coverage began at the throat.

So when Salomon Amar, a periodontal specialist at Boston University, began exploring links between oral bacteria and heart disease in

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