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Dental hygienists: a good choice if you care about your overall health. Dental hygienists are prevention professionals. Their primary concern is to prevent gum disease and tooth decay. Dental hygienists work with you to help you keep your mouth healthy and in so doing they make an important contribution to your overall health. Most people don't connect their mouths to the rest of their bodies. However, research studies have linked gum infections to other diseases in the body such as heart disease and stroke. Gum disease is one of the most common diseases in humans. It's an infectious condition resulting from a build-up of bacteria found in plaque that collects at the gum line. If this isn't removed by flossing, brushing, or professional cleanings by your dental hygienist, eventually plaque hardens into tartar. This may cause swollen and inflamed gums, pain, and ultimately, loss of teeth.
If your gums bleed, the infection can travel through the bloodstream or airways thereby increasing your chances of heart disease, stroke, respiratory diseases, and preterm or low birthweight babies. Gum infections can also make it difficult to control diabetes. 
Consider these research facts:
*bacteria in your mouth can cause up to 10 percent of community-acquired pneumonia 
*those with periodontal (gum) disease can have double the risk of incurring fatal heart disease and stroke than those with good oral health
*while diabetes can lead to periodontal disease, 7 out 9 diabetics who improved
 their oral health reduced their need for insulin
These are good reasons to visit and talk to your dental hygienist.
*there are more than 8,000 (at the time of this paper) dental hygienists registered to practice in Ontario, today there are over 15,000
*as members of the dental health care team, dental hygienists have a distinctive clinical and educational role to play in promoting good oral health
*dental hygienists are not just "teeth cleaners"- they assess, plan and implement treatments, and evaluate individual oral care needs
*dental hygienists provide information and advice on matters related to your particular needs, such as nutrition, smoking cessation, and the use of home oral care products
Regular visits to your dental hygienist can decrease your risk of oral infections and protect against other diseases throughout your body.
*Position Paper entitled Periodontal Disease as a Potential Risk Factor for Systemic Diseases, published in The American Academy of Periodontology, May 1998.



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