8 Common Health Problems That Have Links to Gum Disease

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8 Common Health Problems That Have Links to Gum Disease

Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is a condition that causes the tissues around your teeth to become inflamed and infected. Commonly caused by a buildup of bacteria-packed plaque, gum disease is a progressive condition that only grows worse over time. It leads to the loss of bone and gum tissues, and eventually to tooth loss.

However, gum disease can actually affect many other parts of your body besides your teeth and gums. Studies continue to reveal links between gum disease and a plethora of other health problems. Gum disease can make many conditions worse, and some conditions can make gum disease progress more quickly. Here’s what you need to know.

What Health Conditions Are Linked to Gum Disease?

1: Heart Disease

People with gum disease are two to three times more likely to develop heart disease. This could be for two reasons; either the plaque in your blood vessels and on your teeth are caused by similar bacteria, or the inflammation from gum deterioration causes atherosclerosis (thickening of the blood). While no definitive cause has been identified, the connections make doctors and dentists both encourage good oral health. 

2: Poor Mental Health  

For people suffering from depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, maintaining good oral hygiene often becomes difficult. It may be hard for them to get out of bed, let alone get out of bed and brush their teeth. This can lead to gum disease going untreated and progressing to its advanced stages more quickly. This issue can often compound on itself as receding gums and missing teeth can lead to the loss of self-confidence, making mental health worse. 

3: Autoimmune Diseases 

The link between autoimmune diseases and gum disease is inflammation. With autoimmune diseases, a misguided immune response triggers inflammation and destroys perfectly healthy tissues and cells. Inflammation from gum disease can make autoimmune diseases worse, and vice versa.

4: Arthritis

Studies have shown a link between arthritis and gum disease as well. One study found that people with arthritis are twice as likely to suffer from severe periodontal disease. This same study also found that arthritis symptoms were more severe in people who were not treating their gum disease symptoms.  

5: Diabetes

High blood sugar levels often lead to an increase in bacteria in the mouth. This increases the risk of gum disease, and it then becomes a vicious cycle. Because the infections and inflammation caused by gum diseases can trigger blood sugar spikes, gum disease makes diabetes harder to control.

6: Lung Disease 

Your mouth has direct access to your lungs. This is why one study has found links between periodontal disease and reduced lung function. Because we often take in air through our mouths and into our lungs, we risk transferring infectious bacteria from our mouths to our respiratory systems. 

7: Kidney Disease 

A reduction in kidney function means the body is not filtering blood effectively, leading to serious illnesses. While past studies have shown a link between gum and kidney diseases, a recent one has shown that an increase in gum inflammation can cause your kidneys to reduce their function. Over five years, this can increase the risk of kidney failure by 35%.

8: Osteoporosis

Bone loss is the common denominator between osteoporosis (when bones lose their density) and gum disease. People with osteoporosis have an 80% increased risk of developing some form of periodontal disease. For those with already low bone density, the effects of gum disease can progress quickly, leading to severe infections.

Dental Care That Cares

Dental care is more than just brushing your teeth. By taking an active role in your dental care you can help your body manage pre-existing health problems or reduce your risk. Although a good oral care routine is very important for good dental health, one essential step is visiting the dentist twice a year. Regular dental exams will detect the signs of gum disease before it progresses too far. 

At Hicks Dental Group, your health matters to us, and we are here for all your oral health needs. If you’re due for a cleaning and exam, contact us today to schedule an appointment.



Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (2/5/24). Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.