Find a DoctorGet Care Now







Oral Hygiene and Total Health – Bridging the Gap

While the eyes are known as the windows to the soul, the mouth provides a reflection of your overall health.

Diseases such as diabetes, oral cancer and even depression – which are considered systemic conditions because they impact the entire body – are sometimes related to bacteria in the mouth.

“The connection between dental hygiene and systemic disease is widely acknowledged,” said Robert Stark, MD, a cardiologist at Greenwich Hospital whose private practice focuses on preventive heart health.

For example, a bacterial infection of the gums known as periodontal disease may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Oral bacteria that settle in the heart valves can be especially harmful to a patient with a heart murmur. “That’s why certain patients take an antibiotic at the time of dental work as prevention,” said Dr. Stark.

“Dentists and physicians can look in a patient’s mouth to check the gums for signs of existing or potential systemic diseases,” he added.

“The shape and position of the pharynx – the vertical pillars in back of the mouth – can provide clues about the presence of obstructive sleep apnea, which can lead to heart rhythm problems. The condition of the gums may indicate systemic inflammation. It’s a known fact that gum disease is associated with coronary artery disease. What we don’t know is whether inflammation of the gums is the cause or the result,” said Dr. Stark.

When it comes to diabetes, studies suggest that people with the condition have a higher rate of periodontal disease. This could mean that some patients with gum disease are at greater risk – or may already have a diabetic condition that has gone undiagnosed.

Please join us for this important program, sponsored by the Greenwich Community Health Improvement Partnership.

Lunch and Learn
The Oral Health – Systemic Disease Connection
Wednesday, May 30 l noon - 1 pm
Greenwich Town Hall, 101 Field Point Rd.


Robert StarkLinda ContiJeannie Schnakenberg

Robert Stark, MD, cardiologist | Linda Conti, RDH, dental hygienist | Jeannie Schnakenberg, RDH, dental hygienist

Research shows a real relationship between oral inflammation and systemic diseases that impact the entire body. As a result, growing evidence suggests that treating inflammation of the gums, or periodontal disease, could help to diagnose and manage conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer, among other diseases. Learn more about this mouth-body connection and why dental hygiene is so important. Lunch is provided by Community Health at Greenwich Hospital. To register, call Julie Carriero at 203-622-3776 or email [email protected]. Free.