Plaque is the traditional term that has been used to describe the soft material on the teeth and within the pockets. Today we recognize that plaque, now called biofilm, is a much more complex material that functions through coordination of bacteria within a protective slime. Many years of data and research has demonstrated that the oral biofilm causing periodontal disease has distant systemic affects and has been connected to numerous medical conditions. The health conditions examined here are not the only ones associated with periodontal disease. Evidence also links prostate disease, colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, and poor pregnancy outcomes (preterm birth and low birth weight) to periodontal disease to varying degrees; a full review of all conditions was beyond the scope of this article. Periodontal treatment is evolving to be a major component of full-body medical care and controlling the associated biofilm yields better overall systemic health.
Gregori M. Kurtzman, DDS, MAGD, DICOI, has no relevant conflicts of interest to disclose.
About the Author
Gregori M. Kurtzman, DDS, MAGD, DICOI
Silver Spring, Maryland
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