Gum Conditions

Gum Disease and the Human Body

We now know that an ongoing bacterial infection in your mouth can have far-reaching effects elsewhere in your body. When the gums are chronically in flamed, bacteria can gain entrance into your blood stream and spread to other parts of your body. Gum disease can increase your risk for diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, osteoporosis, and cancer.

Gum disease and diabetes

Diabetic patients are more likely to develop periodontal disease, which in turn can increase blood sugar and diabetic complications. People with diabetes are more likely to have periodontal disease than people without diabetes, probably because people with diabetes are more susceptible to contracting infections. In fact, periodontal disease is often considered a complication of diabetes. People who do not have their diabetes under control are especially at risk.

Research has suggested that the relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes goes both ways—periodontal disease may make it more difficult for people who have diabetes to control their blood sugar. Severe periodontal disease can increase blood sugar, contributing to increased periods of time when the body functions with a high blood sugar. This puts people with diabetes at increased risk for diabetic complications.

Gum disease and cardiovascular disease

Heart disease

Several studies have shown that periodontal disease is associated with heart disease. While a cause-and-effect relationship has not yet been proven, research has indicated hat periodontal disease increases the risk of heart disease. Scientists believe that inflammation caused by periodontal disease may be responsible for the association. Periodontal disease can also exacerbate existing heart conditions. Patients at risk for infective endocarditis may require antibiotics prior to dental procedures. Your periodontist and cardiologist will be able to determine if your heart condition requires use of antibiotics prior to dental procedures.


Additional studies have pointed to a relationship between periodontal disease and stroke. In one study that looked at the causal relationship of oral infection as a risk factor for stroke, people diagnosed with acute cerebrovascular ischemia (stroke) were found more likely to have an oral infection when compared to those in the control group.

Gum disease and other systemic diseases


Researchers have suggested a link between osteoporosis (low bone mineral density)and bone loss in the jaw. Studies suggest that osteoporosis may lead to tooth loss because the density of the bone that supports the teeth may be decreased, which means the teeth no longer have a solid foundation.

Respiratory disease

Bacteria that grow in the oral cavity can be aspirated into the lungs and cause respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, especially in people with periodontal disease.


Researchers have found that men with gum disease were 49 percent more likely to develop kidney cancer, 54 percent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, and 30 percent more likely to develop blood cancers.

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