The photo above shows what moderate periodontal disease looks like: bleeding, inflammation and recession of the gums plus pockets of pus forming around the roots of the teeth. Not only does it look bad, it causes extremely bad breath, shifting of teeth and even tooth loss! The infection and inflammation of periodontal disease can affect your whole body.

What are some ways to prevent it?

The tried and true ways have been daily brushing and flossing plus frequent professional cleanings. Of course, if you smoke, you must stop.

Once you have exposed roots, your dentist or hygienist will need to scrape the hardened calculus off.  In more severe cases, the patient will be referred to a periodontist for surgery.

The infection and inflammation of periodontal disease can affect your whole body. In fact, periodontal disease has now been linked to coronary artery disease.

But how?

Does the infection in your mouth lead to heart disease?

Does the plaque buildup in your arteries lead to periodontal disease?

Research has shown that people with periodontal disease also have plaque buildup in their arteries. Studies have linked high cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol with both heart disease and periodontal disease.

Other studies have shown an association between chronic periodontitis and erectile dysfunction in men. Of course, erectile dysfunction is caused by plaque in your arteries and can be reversed with a plant-based diet.

One study titled, “High Fiber Foods Reduce Periodontal Disease Progression in Men Aged 65 and Older” shows that eating the same plant foods, which slow the progression of heart disease will also slow the progression of periodontal disease.

A study published in the Journal of Dental Research indicates that saturated fatty acid may actually contribute to periodontal disease.  Saturated fatty acid (SFA) is typically found in butter, milk, meat fats and oils and can cause inflammation.

Multiple studies have found that people with coronary artery disease and diabetes have a higher rate of gum disease. The common denominator seems to be a person’s diet. All tissues in the body must receive nutrients through the blood vessels. If the blood vessels are stiff and filled with plaque, the circulation to all parts of the body is compromised, which causes health problems from head to toe. The same poor eating habits that sicken people with heart disease and diabetes also result in poor oral health.

To find out whether you have risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and periodontal disease, get a blood test to check your total cholesterol and your LDL cholesterol. If they are high, change your diet.

And, in the meantime, don’t forget to visit your dental hygienist regularly.

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