Author Affiliations: Office of the Director (Dr Slavkin) and Gene Therapy and Therapeutics Branch (Dr Baum), National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.
Contempo Updates Section Editor: Stephen
J. Lurie, MD, PhD, Senior Editor.
The classic dental diseases, caries and periodontal disease, are commonly
thought to have little effect on systemic health. These diseases result from
infections by microbes with highly specific adhesion mechanisms in the mouth.1 Systemic disease resulting from infectious oral microbes
is generally recognized to occur in patients with immunological and nutritional
deficiencies, such as when individual host defenses are compromised, allowing
oral microbes to gain systemic access. Systemic complications from oral microbes
are usually thought to be confined to only a few specific clinical scenarios,
such as bacterial endocarditis.2 Given this
perspective, it is understandable that primary care physicians pay little
attention to oral microbial infections and dental diseases.3
Slavkin HC, Baum BJ. Relationship of Dental and Oral Pathology to Systemic Illness. JAMA. 2000;284(10):1215-1217. doi:10.1001/jama.284.10.1215