If you thought dental plaque and gingivitis only causes bad breath, think again. Recent research suggests that bacteria and inflammation in the mouth can also be associated with other problems, including heart attack and dementia.

Scientists have found links between poor oral health and general ailments, though they have not yet managed to find the actual cause-effect relationship between them. Researchers have, however, managed to find common ground that the list of health problems resulting from lack of oral hygiene is only growing.

The American Academy of Periodontology and the American Journal of Cardiology had conducted joint research in 2009 to study the relationship between heart ailments and dental hygiene. The group suggested that cardiologists should get additional details about a patient's oral hygiene.

The research paper published in the Journal of Periodontology and the American Journal of Cardiology also suggested that dental surgeons keep tabs on any family history of heart disease when patients come in seeking help with dental plaque.

They say that sticky plaque, which forms a biofilm across the teeth, releases bacteria that shed acids on to the teeth causing it to decay. Since the plaque is very sticky, it keeps the acids in contact with the teeth, which results in the enamel breaking down.

When plaque builds up over a long time, it leads to gum disease like gingivitis - an ailment where the tender and swollen gums start bleeding. If this condition is not treated, a more severe form of the disease can develop where gum tissue pulls away from the teeth, allowing the bacteria to destroy the underlying bone.

Scientists have already linked periodontal disease with a number of other ailments like heart attacks, diabetes, dementia and rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers believe that oral bacteria find their way into the bloodstream and cause these ailments by injuring vital organs.

While studies have already associated gum disease with heart attacks, the new thought among the medical experts associates gum inflammation to a host of problems that stem from some sort of inflammation like in the case of heart disease and arthritis.

Another obvious link is between diabetes and gum disease with research proving that those with insulin deficiency are more likely to contact tooth infection and gum disease. In case, you have diabetes, do remember to visit your dentist regularly.