The notion of a mind-body connection is common, but how about the mouth-body connection? Research shows there’s a strong link between periodontal disease and chronic illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, respiratory issues and osteoporosis.

According to Laurence G. Chacker, DMD, there are many complex relationships between the periodontium (gums, underlying bones and the teeth) and overall health, which is why he and his staff take a holistic, whole-body approach to dentistry.

“By the time we see gingivitis — gum inflammation — or periodontitis — destruction of the bone and gum — you’re likely in an acute stage,” he explained. “The same issues that cause chronic inflammation in the mouth cause imbalances in your endocrine system, and that can lead to real issues or exacerbate the issues you may already have.”

This means diabetics may have a harder time controlling sugar levels; those with osteoporosis, osteopenia or osteonecrosis are more susceptible to bone breakdown in the mouth; patients with heart issues are more prone to strokes; and those with respiratory distress are at higher risk of pneumonia from aspirating bacteria from their mouths. Pregnant women may be at risk for low birth weight babies and other complications.

“Be on the preventive end,” Dr. Chacker urges. “Get regular check-ups and routine dental cleanings at least once a year, and practice simple, good oral hygiene at home. Brushing and flossing are quick and easy things you can do to protect your teeth and gums. It’s also wise to use an oral anti-bacterial mouth rinse twice a day to reduce the bacterial load in your mouth.”

Dr. Chacker says adopting an overall healthy lifestyle generally translates to a healthy mouth. He advises a healthy diet rich with vegetables and high-quality protein, proper hydration, a smart vitamin routine depending on the situation, adequate exercise, restorative sleep and avoiding stress for a strong immune system.

“Besides the chronic illness risks, tooth and gum issues can make you feel self-conscious which could lead to your not wanting to go out as much,” he added. “It’s often accompanied by halitosis — bad breath — and because you can’t chew properly you could be plagued with digestion issues. Take care of your mouth, and you’ll really be taking care of your whole self.”

The Center for Contemporary Periodontics and Dental Implants sees patients as young as teenagers and on into their 90s. Dr. Chacker credits his great support staff for handling customer service and the office management so he doesn’t have to “sweat the small stuff” and can handle his job: providing exceptional dentistry to patients of all ages.

“We give patients our best every day,” he noted. “And we respect that trust.”

Learn more at or by calling 609-883-6900.

The Center for Contemporary Periodontics and Dental Implants, 34 Franklin Corner Road, Lawrenceville. 609-883-6900. See ad, page 24.

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