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Having a healthy mouth doesn’t just mean having healthy teeth and gums, but a healthy body as well. Studies on periodontitis (advanced gum disease) link it to other diseases of the body. Case in point, people with advanced gum disease are 40% more likely to have a chronic health condition (according to the American Dental Association).

Oral bacteria that is allowed to build up unchecked results in infection, as the immune system kicks in to fight the infection and inflame the gums along the way. Left unchecked, this inflammation and its byproducts eat away at the gums and bones holding the teeth in place and can lead to tooth loss. In addition to periodontal disease, gum inflammation can also affect our bodies in other ways, including the following.

Halitosis: The bacteria from bits of food particles stuck between the teeth release chemicals, such as hydrogen sulfide (which smells like sulfur) so you end up with halitosis, also known as chronic bad breath.

Dementia: Bacteria from gingivitis can travel to the brain through the bloodstream or nerve channels in the head and lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Diabetes: Inflammation that begins in the mouth weakens the body’s ability to use insulin, and high blood pressure causes infections like gum disease, to grow.

Heart Disease: Up to 91% of patients with heart disease are also afflicted with periodontitis. Inflammation in the mouth can cause inflammatory conditions in the blood vessels, traveling through the bloodstream to the arteries in the heart and causing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) resulting in heart attack or stroke.

Low Birth Weight Babies: Both infection and inflammation can interfere with a fetus’ development during pregnancy and can raise the levels of chemicals called prostaglandins, which can induce early labor.

Obesity: Periodontitis appears to increase in a person with higher body fat, in fact, a study recently found that overweight people had double the occurrence of periodontitis, while obese people had triple the incidence.

Respiratory Illness: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia are both made worse by periodontitis, likely due to the increase of bacteria in the lungs.

Daily brushing, flossing, rinsing with a mouthwash to kill oral bacteria, along with six month dental cleanings will ensure that you are on your way to good oral health and a healthier body as well! Please call our office to schedule a visit with Dr. Lynn Leyde for a checkup if you have any concerns.  Our Professional Dental Care team in Shoreline, Washington is just a phone call away at 206-546-8377!