Alex Rodriguez Reveals He Has Gum Disease and Talks Tobacco Use in Baseball

The former New York Yankees star shares that his diagnosis is common in America.

Alex Rodriguez knows he has a megawatt smile -- but according to his dentist, he is one of millions of Americans suffering from gum disease. 

"Looks can be deceiving," Rodriguez said on Wednesday during an interview with CBS Mornings. "I just recently went to go see my dentist, and not thinking anything about any gum disease, and then the dentist tells me the news. Then I come to find out that over 60 million Americans have this gum disease. So it's important for all Americans, all viewers watching to go out there and take care of your teeth."

The 47-year-old athlete did not get into the specifics of his gum disease, but did share that it is prevalent in Black and Latino communities. The diagnosis also made him think about his friend and mentor, Tony Gwynn, who died in 2014 as a result of mouth cancer from constant use of dipping tobacco -- a common thing for some baseball players. 

"You saw Tony Gwynn years ago passed because of a lot of tobacco use from my understanding," he shared. "So I'm not sure if it's tied to that. I never did tobacco. I did a lot of sunflower seeds, but anyways, viewers at home, it's always better to be safe. Go see your local dentist."

A.Rod -- who played professional baseball for over two decades -- said his diagnosis and Gwynn's death encouraged him to speak out and bring awareness for younger MLB stars and members of his community.

"You never tie it together," Rodriguez said. "To think about just chewing tobacco leading to just the cancer, leading to death and a guy like Tony whose such an amazing guy, played hoops at San Diego State, and a great defender. Gold glover, and one of the great, great icons of baseball. One of my heroes."