Monsters in your Mouth

Recent data released from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) shows that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US, followed by cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke, accidents, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes. Except for accidents, each of these causes of death can be linked to proteins, enzymes, and bacteria that can be found in the oral cavity. Thus, six of the seven leading causes of death in the US are chronic diseases that have been associated with conditions in the oral cavity.

Heart Disease

Inflammation in the mouth may be correlated to inflammation in the body. Studies have shown that patients with periodontal disease are up to 35% more likely to develop coronary artery disease than patients with healthy gums. Inflammation in the body changes the elasticity of arteries and will increase plaque accumulation in these arteries causing them to narrow.


Researchers at San Diego State University found that patients with pancreatic cancer have significantly higher levels of two types of bacteria in the mouth than patients without pancreatic cancer. It has also been noted that men with periodontal disease are 30% more likely to develop cancer of the blood than patients with normal gum tissue and also have an increased risk for prostate cancer.

Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease

Bacteria in the oral cavity can be aspirated into the lower airways causing lung infections which can lead to pneumonia. If a patient has COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), a lung infection can greatly worsen their condition and lead to severe circumstances.


Those with severe periodontal disease are 4.5 times more likely to suffer an ischemic stroke than those with normal gums. Strokes can also be a result of obstructive sleep apnea. It has been found that 92% of everyone with a stroke has sleep apnea. A dental exam and history can give the dentist an indication if sleep apnea is present and can refer you for proper diagnosis.

Alzheimer’s Disease

A case study in Japan found that the loss of more than half of adult teeth by age 50 to 60 may correlate with a 2.6 fold increase in Alzheimer’s disease. Another study of 144 participants having few or no teeth showed that the risk of dementia increased 4.3 fold.


Studies have shown that diabetic patients with severe periodontal disease are at a 3.2 fold increased risk of diabetic neuropathy and ischemic heart disease. Periodontal treatment can reduce health complications for patients with type II diabetes, which can reduce annual health care costs by approximately 40%.

In the past, most of the evidence supporting the oral-systemic link was based on retrospective studies. Over the past two years, studies have emerged to provide evidence to the link. The connection between the mouth and body is undeniable. If you would like to have more information about the oral-systemic link , or if you have any concerns bout your own health, we would be glad to discuss your oral condition with you.

References will be supplied by request.