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Chronic Diseases and Oral Health

Chronic Diseases and Oral Health

Chronic diseases-such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes-are the leading causes of death and disability in the United States.  Although chronic diseases are among the most common and costly health problems, they are also among the most preventable. Adopting healthy behaviors such as eating nutritious foods, being physically active, and avoiding tobacco use can prevent or control the devastating effects of these diseases.

Chronic diseases are non-communicable (cannot be passed to another person)  illnesses that are prolonged in duration, do not resolve spontaneously, and are rarely cured completely. Examples of chronic diseases include heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and arthritis. According to the CDC …

  • Chronic diseases cause 7 in 10 deaths each year in the United States.
  • About 133 million Americans-nearly 1 in 2 adults-live with at least one chronic illness.
  • More than 75% of health care costs are due to chronic conditions.
  • Approximately one-fourth of persons living with a chronic illness experience significant limitations in daily activities.
  • The percentage of U.S. children and adolescents with a chronic health condition has increased from 1.8% in the 1960s to more than 7% in 2004.

Although chronic diseases are more common among older adults, they affect people of all ages and are now recognized as a leading health concern of the nation. Growing evidence indicates that a comprehensive approach to prevention can save tremendous costs and needless suffering.

Chronic diseases include:

  • Arthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Obesity
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Emphysema
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV
  • Liver conditions
  • Stroke
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Poor general health
  • And more!

Unfortunately, many – if not most – people with chronic diseases also have numerous dental problems, and the association between chronic disease and oral health continues to mount.

Chronic diseases appear to increase the risk of developing dental diseases; dental disease appear to increase the likelihood of developing chronic diseases; and, people with chronic diseases generally receive less dental care.

A study published in the October 2009 Journal of the American Dental Association cited HIGH level of dental treatment needs in more than 59% of patients who have chronic diseases. For those patients in racial/ethnic minority groups, this exceeded 70%!

What can you do?

If you have a chronic disease, make sure you get regular dental care, and make sure your home dental hygiene care is excellent.

If you don’t have a chronic disease, do the same! You’ll increase your odds against developing a chronic disease.