MLB Player Alex Rodriguez on His Early-Stage Diagnosis

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The former New York Yankees shortstop talks about being diagnosed with early-stage gum disease and how people can take steps to prevent it.Image provided by Orapharma
  • MLB player Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod) is sharing his journey with gum disease.
  • A-Rod partners with the Cover Your Bases movement to talk about prevention and treatment.
  • Health experts share ways to recognize gum disease and care for your gums.

Alex Rodriguez, known as “A-Rod” to baseball fans, is admired for his exceptional skills on the baseball field.

During 22 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB), he received numerous honors, including 14 All-Star selections, two Gold Glove Awards and 10 Silver Slugger Awards.

Many consider him one of the greatest all-around shortstops in the game.

But the World Series champion put baseball talk aside and talked about something he's never discussed before; gum disease.

After a recent routine visit to the dentist, Rodriguez learned he was one of them 47% Americans age 30 and older suffer from the disease.

“I'm honestly surprised. I take good care of my teeth – brushing and flossing every day…I think we think if you chew tobacco, eat sunflower seeds, or [chew] Chewing gum, these are synonymous with baseball players, [that must be the cause but] This is not true, this can happen to anyone,” he told Healthline.

Gum disease is an inflammatory infection of the gums and bone around the teeth. Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease and is characterized by red, inflamed, and bleeding gums.

“Gingivitis is reversible with preventive dental treatments and good home oral care,” Kristin Lenz Galbreath, DMD, owner of Family Dental in Union Grove, Wisconsin, tells Healthline.

As gum disease progresses, it can turn into periodontal disease, a chronic inflammatory infection that eventually leads to the destruction of gum tissue and the bone around the teeth.

“Untreated advanced periodontal disease can lead to loose teeth and even tooth loss,” says Lenz Galbreath.

She points out that people often misunderstand the consequences of not treating gum disease.

“For most people, gum disease doesn't cause harm, and if it didn't cause harm, it would be difficult for patients to believe that there is a problem worth treating,” she said.

Treatment for periodontal disease is designed to preserve the remaining bone support of the tooth, and can be successful, said Dr. David Okano, DDS, spokesman for the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP).

“It can also be prevented by brushing and flossing daily and visiting a dental health professional regularly,” he said.

Okano noted that a general dentist or hygienist can recognize the onset of gum disease and refer you to a periodontist for further evaluation and treatment.

“As dental specialists trained in the treatment of gum disease, periodontists have the expertise to provide appropriate treatment for gum disease,” he said.

Treatment for gum disease depends on how advanced the condition is. Treatment can be surgical, non-surgical, or may include dental implants if the tooth cannot be saved, Okano said.

Once gum disease has been successfully treated, it's important to have a professional teeth cleaning every three months, compared to the usual six-month interval,” he says.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), risks of gum disease include:

  • age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 70% of Americans age 65 and older have some form of gum disease.
  • Smoking and tobacco use. Research indicates that smoking may be one of the most important risk factors for periodontal disease and contribute to its progression.
  • Genetics. Despite good dental hygiene, some people may be more susceptible to gum disease.
  • pressure. When the body is under stress, it can be difficult to fight infections, including periodontal disease.
  • molar. When pressure is placed on the tooth tissue due to grinding or clenching, the periodontal tissue can be destroyed.
  • medical treatement. Some medications, such as oral contraceptive pills, antidepressants, and heart medications, can affect oral health.
  • Malnutrition. When a person's diet lacks essential nutrients, it affects the body's immune system and ability to fight infection, which can lead to gum disease.

Additionally, untreated gum disease increases the risk of other health complications.

For example, Research The study found that the chronic inflammation model of periodontitis is the same as that of other diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

In other words, people with diabetes are more susceptible to infections and are more likely to develop periodontitis than people without diabetes. Additionally, researchers believe periodontitis can worsen heart disease.

“The mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body. The presence of high levels of oral bacteria in other parts of the body is associated with an increased risk of systemic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease,” says Lenz Galbreath. “[If] We know that our oral health affects our overall health, so there are no better reasons to visit your dentist regularly and treat oral disease as early as possible.

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“[Gum disease] It’s something worth considering, sooner rather than later,” Rodriguez said.Image provided by Orapharma

Learning about the connection between gum disease and heart health, as well as gum disease and diabetes, inspired Rodriguez to spread awareness.

He works with OraPharma and Co. Cover your bases campaign, which includes educational content about gum disease and encourages people to discuss comprehensive treatment options with their dentist.

“[I’m] Use my platform to reach all my followers, fans, viewers and non-followers [know] That [gum disease] It’s something worth considering, sooner rather than later,” Rodriguez said.

While it may not be fashionable or exciting to talk about gum disease, he says it's true.

“I have it, so it's very real… We hope we can always talk about an event [that focuses on] You look great and your abs are torn, but that’s not the case with me, it’s real,” Rodriquez said. “I went to the dentist, just like any American – any size, any shape, any gender, this can happen to any of us and hopefully I can use my platform for the greater good. “

Learning that the Latino community and people of color are disproportionately affected by gum disease also prompted him to speak out.

according to Department of Disease ControlSevere gum disease is most common in adults 65 years or older, smokers, Mexican Americans, and non-Hispanic black adults.

“I'm glad I discovered this early. I wish I'd known earlier [now that I know] It's popular in my community, Latinos, and black and brown skinned people [too],” Rodriguez said. “Anything related to [the word] If you have a condition that makes you say, “Oh my God, this is terrible;” the good news is that it is treatable, and your dentist will be more informed.

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