Research indicates gum disease may increase the risk of heart disease and stroke; the presence of common problems in the mouth, including gum disease, cavities, and missing teeth, were as good at predicting heart disease as cholesterol levels. Oral bacteria is a possible connection since bacteria from the mouth enter the bloodstream through the gums, oral bacteria stick to fatty plaques in the bloodstream (directly contributing to blockages), and oral bacteria trigger an inflammatory response, causing the blood vessels to swell, reducing blood flow, and increasing the risk of clots.
Over 50% of adults in the U.S. have some degree of gum disease, but did you know the impact goes far beyond your mouth?
Osteoporosis – People with gum disease may be at a higher risk of osteoporosis.
Stroke – People with severe gum disease have a 3x to 4x higher risk of brain stroke.
Alzheimer’s and Dementia – Gum disease may be linked to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia from oral bacteria that spread through the bloodstream.
Cancer – Several studies show strong evidence linking gum disease with an increased risk of oral cancer and pancreatic cancer.
Respiratory Disease – Gum disease can worsen conditions such as COPD and may play a role in the contraction of pneumonia, bronchitis, and emphysema.
Heart Disease – People with gum disease are 2x as likely to have heart disease.
Diabetes – Nearly 22% of diabetes patients have gum disease.
Rheumatoid Arthritis – RA patients are 8x more likely to have gum disease.
Statistically, gum disease is higher in men (56.4%) than in women (38.4%).
Impotence – Men in their 30s with severe gum disease are 3x more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction. Prolonged chronic inflammation associated with gum disease can damage blood vessels leading to impotence.
Prostate Health – Studies show that the prostate-specific antigen (PSA), an enzyme created in the prostate that is normally secreted in very small amounts, is secreted at higher levels in men with gum disease and prostate cancer.
Cancer in Men – Research has found that men with a history of gum disease are 14% more likely to develop cancer than men with healthy gums. Men with gum disease may be 49% more likely than women to develop kidney cancer, 54% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, and 30% more likely to develop blood cancers.
Puberty and Menstruation – An increased level of sex hormones causes higher blood circulation to the bums, increasing the gum’s sensitivity, susceptibility to irritation, and the growth of bacteria just beneath the gums. These same hormones can cause menstruation gingivitis – red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums, and sores on the inside of the cheek, which typically occurs right before a woman’s period and clears up once it has started.
Pregnancy and Preterm Births – Pregnant women with untreated gum disease may be more likely to have a preterm baby.
Menopause and Post-Menopause – Women may experience changes in their mouths, including discomfort in the mouth, dry mouth, pain and burning sensations in the gum tissue, and altered taste. In addition, post-menopausal women with osteoporosis are 86% more likely to develop gum disease, while women with gum disease have a higher risk of having osteoporosis.
Why Is It Important To Get My Gum Disease Treated?
The health risks of gum disease go far beyond the loss of teeth. There is a connection between gum disease and a number of serious medical conditions.
People with periodontal disease:
are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease
have nearly twice the risk of having a fatal heart attack.
Gum disease has also been linked to other health problems, including:
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease begins when a film called plaque accumulates on the teeth and calcium from saliva hardens the plaque—this calcified plaque is called tartar or calculus. Certain types of germs that live in this plaque and calculus damage gum tissue. Your body tries to fight this infection with an inflammatory attack, sending white blood cells to the area to destroy the bacteria. This inflammation causes the tissue to bleed easily when you brush or floss. This stage of the condition is called gingivitis. If the infection and inflammation persist, the result is a chronic inflammatory condition where the gums, ligament and bone around the teeth are destroyed—often with no symptoms. This stage is called periodontitis.
Signs/Symptoms of Moderate—Advanced Gum Disease Include:
• Gums that are red, swollen, and bleed easily
• Gums that seem to have pulled away from the teeth
• Bad breath or halitosis
• Pus between your teeth and gums
• Teeth that seem to be loose or moving away from one another
• Change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
• Change in the way your partial denture or implant-supported restorations fit
• Or no symptoms at all!
What Are the Risk Factors for Gum Disease?
Well known risk factors for periodontitis include genetics, stress, avoiding the dentist, not brushing or flossing, and some medical conditions. Smokers are significantly more likely to develop gum disease than non-smokers.
It’s not just about your teeth anymore — gum disease has been linked to numerous health problems, with new studies emerging all the time linking oral and overall health.
The Link Between Gum Disease, Heart Disease, and Stroke
Research indicates gum disease may increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. People with gum disease are twice as likely to have heart disease. Those diagnosed with acute ischemic stroke (brain injury caused by a blocked blood vessel) are more likely to have gum disease.
The presence of common problems in the mouth, including gum disease, cavities, and missing teeth, were as good at predicting heart disease as cholesterol levels.
The Possible Connection: Oral Bacteria
Bacteria from the mouth enter the bloodstream through the gums.
Oral bacteria stick to fatty plaques in the bloodstream, directly contributing to blockages.
Oral bacteria trigger and inflammatory response, causing the blood vessels to swell, reducing blood flow, and increasing the risk of clots.
Proactive Prevention: Oral Health Affects Total Health
Regular dental checkups and professional cleanings
If you have gum disease plus one risk factor of heart disease, have an annual medical exam to check your heart health.