Free periodontal exams at College of Dentistry

Give Kids a Smile Day

Agata Lefere, a pediatric dental resident, gives St. Malachy second-grader Jeshiayah Robinson a toothbrush and supplies at the College of Dentistry’s Give Kids a Smile Day Feb. 5. Twice-daily brushing is important in preventing periodontal disease. Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin/UIC Photo Services

Half of American adults aged 30 and over — nearly 65 million — have periodontal disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But the condition doesn’t just affect the mouth.

If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss, but research has shown that it is also associated with other chronic inflammatory diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, said Dr. Phillip Marucha, professor and head of periodontics at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry.

As part of National Periodontal Health Month, the college’s postgraduate clinic is offering free periodontal evaluations from Feb. 25 to March 1. The assessments will gauge an individual’s periodontal health, diagnose existing disease, assess risk for disease, and determine any needed treatment.

The screenings will be conducted daily from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. No appointment is necessary. The College of Dentistry is at 801 S. Paulina St., Chicago.

Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the gum tissue and bone supporting the teeth. Symptoms of gum disease include bad breath that won’t go away, red or swollen gums, tender or bleeding gums, painful chewing, loose or sensitive teeth, and receding gums or longer appearing teeth.

Several risk factors are associated with periodontal disease, including smoking, hormonal changes in females, other diseases such as cancer or AIDS, medications and genetics, said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. People usually don’t show signs of gum disease until they are in their 30s or 40s, and it is more prevalent in men, according to the HHS.

The key to avoiding gum disease is to keep the teeth and gums healthy, said Dr. Saba Khan, clinical assistant professor and director of UIC’s postgraduate peridontics program. Individuals can do so by brushing their teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and flossing regularly to remove plaque from between teeth. Every patient should receive a periodontal evaluation annually, she said.

For more information on the free periodontal screenings, contact (312) 996-7374.

UIC ranks among the nation’s leading research universities and is Chicago’s largest university with 27,500 students, 12,000 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state’s major public medical center. A hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities Commitment, through which UIC faculty, students and staff engage with community, corporate, foundation and government partners in hundreds of programs to improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas around the world.

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