Salivary lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) was reported to be a useful parameter for the screening of periodontal disease. We performed a cross-sectional study to verify the usefulness of salivary LDH as a biomarker of periodontitis and to investigate the association of severity of periodontitis with systemic inflammation by measuring salivary LDH and serum high sensitive C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) levels in a community-based middle-aged and elderly population in Japan. We recruited 644 men and 1171 women, aged 30-79 years, who participated in the Toon Health Study during 2011-15. Periodontal condition was assessed by full-mouth examination including mean value of probing depth, percentage of probing depth of ≥4 mm and ≥6 mm, and bleeding on probing. Saliva and blood serum samples were collected for measurement of salivary LDH level and hs-CRP, respectively. A linear trend across quartiles of salivary LDH was calculated using linear regression. Interaction of salivary LDH and overweight status (body mass index of ≥25 kg/m2 ) was tested using the cross-product term of log-transformed continuous salivary LDH and overweight status. Analysis of covariance adjusted for potential confounders revealed strong associations between salivary LDH level and the indicators of periodontal condition (P < .01) in both men and women. Sex- and age-adjusted mean values of hs-CRP according to salivary LDH quartiles were 0.40, 0.45, 0.45 and 0.50 mg/L (P for trend <.01). Although the association was attenuated after further adjustment for body mass index, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, alcohol intake, smoking status and physical activity. When stratified by overweight status, the association remained significant in overweight individuals (P = .03). The multivariable adjusted odds ratio of hs-CRP level of ≥1 mg/L for the highest vs lowest quartile of salivary LDH was 1.93 (95% CI, 1.01-3.69) in overweight individuals, but not significant in non-overweight individuals. Salivary LDH appears to be a promising biomarker for the mass screening of periodontitis in local community health settings. High salivary LDH levels, particularly in overweight individuals might contribute to prevention of cardiovascular disease, through measuring systemic inflammatory burdens as well as traditional cardiovascular risk factors. © 2018 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.