It can be persistent. It can be stubborn. It can keep you from having conversations or getting closer with some you love. It can make you self-conscious. What is it? It's chronic bad breath.

Chronic bad breath isn't just a condition of the mouth. It's not just annoying. It is a sign that something more serious is going on in the mouth and is a warning that you could be at risk of a stroke. Find out what chronic bad breath means in this blog.

When You Need More Than a Mint

Chronic bad breath - the kind that sticks around after your garlic-laden Italian lunch or after your brush - is a frequent sign of periodontal (gum disease). If you are living with a form of gum disease, this means that bacteria have taken up residence in your gum disease, causing inflammation, pain, swelling, redness and, well, a funky smell.

But, What About Stroke?

We're getting to that. While it may sound like an odd connection, researchers at Tampere University in Finland have found that individuals living with advanced forms of periodontal disease have a higher risk of developing blood clots. And, blood clots mean a greater chance of developing a stroke.

Participants in the study were all patients who had received emergency treatment for strokes that caused paralysis on one side of their body. These participants were tested for the presence of oral bacteria known to cause gum disease. Their blood clots were also tested, and the Finnish researchers found that almost 80 percent of clots contained gum disease-causing bacteria.

How Exactly Does This Happen?

The bacteria that cause periodontal disease works its way into the bloodstream, typically through wounds caused by trauma or dental procedures such as extractions or root canals.

When the bacteria hit the bloodstream, they trigger your immune system to kickstart inflammation, the body's natural defense to invading bacteria and other microbes. When this happens, plaque can build up in the arteries.

When arteries get clogged up with plaque, your chance of a blood clot goes up - along with your chance of having a blockage that causes a stroke.

Know the Signs of Periodontal Disease

Understanding the signs of periodontal disease can help lower your risk of gum disease, along with help from your dentist. Here are the most common signs:

  • Persistent bad breath
  • Red and swollen gums
  • Gums that hurt or feel tender when eating, brushing or flossing
  • Receding gums
  • Teeth that look longer
  • Loose teeth
  • Separating teeth
  • Mouth sores

The best way to reduce the risk of developing periodontal disease is to brush and floss regularly (brush twice per day and floss at least once per day) and to see the dentist regularly. Going to the dentist means you can be checked, monitored and treated for gum disease - which may reduce your risk of developing a blood clot.

Learn more about the mouth-body connection and how dentistry can improve overall health by calling Dr. Sean Endsley in Waco, Texas, today.

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