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A spokesman for the American Dental Association noted that people with serious gum disease were 40% more likely to have a chronic health condition as well. This happens when bacteria in the mouth builds up and causes infection. Your immune system then goes on the attack to fight the infection, inflaming the gums. The inflammation lingers until the infection is controlled.

With time, this inflammation and the byproducts it releases eat at the gums and bones that hold your teeth in place. By then you have advanced gum disease, called periodontitis. In addition, bacteria in the mouth from small food particles wedged between the teeth release chemicals like hydrogen sulfide, which smell bad. In addition to periodontitis and halitosis, gum inflammation can also affect the body in other ways:

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

Heart disease: up to 91% of patients who have heart disease also have periodontitis. Both can be caused by smoking, being overweight, and an unhealthy diet. Inflammation in the mouth can cause inflammation in the blood vessels, traveling to the arteries in the heart and causing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) potentially causing a heart attack or stroke.

Low birth weight babies: infection and inflammation interfere with a fetus’ development during a woman’s pregnancy and can raise the levels of chemicals called prostaglandins, which may induce labor.

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

Respiratory illness: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia are both made worse by periodontitis, and it is thought that might be the increase of bacteria in the lungs.

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.

As you can see, taking care of your mouth supports your overall health and not just your teeth and gums. Brushing, flossing, rinsing with a mouthwash to kill bacteria and regular dental cleanings can ward off the ravages of periodontal disease. We invite you to call our office to schedule a visit with our dentist for a checkup if you have any concerns.  Our Hansen Dental Care team in Pasadena, California is just a phone call away at 626-793-2273!