May 16, 2013
By Dr. William A. Gillespie, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, EmblemHealth
In keeping with EmblemHealth’s longstanding commitment to the health and well-being of New York’s working men and women, I have written Health and Wellness Tips, an article series dedicated to helping you stay healthy, get well and live better. We hope you’ll find the health information in these articles useful to you and your welfare fund members. Look for Health and Wellness Tipsarticles in future editions of LaborPress.
Oral and dental health are not only significant to your appearance and sense of well-being but also to your overall health. Cavities and periodontal (gum) disease may contribute to heart disease, diabetes and low-birth-weight babies. To help avoid these health problems, it is important to understand periodontal disease, and how it may be treated or prevented.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums and bone that surround and support the teeth.
Periodontal Disease, Diabetes and Your Heart
People with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to develop heart disease. One study found that the presence of common problems in the mouth, including gum disease, cavities and missing teeth, were as good at predicting heart disease as cholesterol levels.
If you have diabetes, it is even more important to maintain your oral health, as diabetes makes the body more prone to bacterial infection.
Reduce the Risk for Oral Health Problems
- Have regular professional cleanings by a dental hygienist or dentist.
- Brush and floss every day to remove the bacteria that cause gum disease.
- See a dentist twice a year for checkups, or more frequently if necessary.
- Get an oral cancer screening by the dentist. It’s one of the best ways to find oral cancer early.
Smoking and Your Oral Health
Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for oral and dental disease, and perhaps the biggest risk factor for oral cancer. Tobacco smoke is harmful to gum and other tissue in your mouth. In fact, all forms of tobacco increase your risk of oral cancer and can damage the bone around your teeth, which may lead to tooth loss in the future.
If You Smoke, Get Help to Quit
Quitting smoking is challenging, but your willpower could surprise you. With planning, support and commitment, you really can do it. Setting a quit date is an important first step.
EmblemHealth, through its companies GHI and HIP, has over 75 years of experience covering New Yorkers and services some 2.8 million people ranging from employees in small and large groups to individuals, retirees and unionized workers.
For more information about how EmblemHealth delivers viable health care solutions to the multiemployer market, please call Jerry Gallo, Vice President of Sales, at 1-646-447-5031. You can also visit us at www.emblemhealth.com/labor.