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10 Systemic Conditions That Affect Your Teeth And Gingiva

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10 Systemic Conditions That Affect Your Teeth And Gingiva

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The oral cavity reflects the overall health status. Specific changes in the oral cavity can be due to underlying medical illnesses. Here are some of the systemic conditions that affect the teeth and the gingiva.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Chithranjali Ravichandran

Published At September 6, 2021
Reviewed AtAugust 1, 2023


The oral cavity reflects your general health, and it is usually called a mirror of your health status. Any systemic disease will definitely show its signs and symptoms on your teeth and gums in one or the other way. So when you go for a dental checkup, your dentist does not check only black spots on teeth, but the dentist's sight will definitely catch any other systemic problems an individual is having that are affecting gums and bone. Let us go through some systemic conditions of the heart, lungs, and immune system linked to gingival health and teeth.

1. Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease of uncontrolled blood sugar. Diabetes qualitatively or quantitatively affects or decreases the white blood cells from the blood. These white blood cells are responsible for the fight against infection. When they decrease, it fails to prevent or fight against infection in the oral cavity. When there is an increased glucose level in the mouth and reduced saliva (dry mouth in diabetic patients), there will be less cleansing action because of decreased saliva. So there will be an increased accumulation of plaque on teeth that leads to more colonization of bacteria in plaque that leads to decay and cavity.

In the case of diabetic patients, there are increased chances of periodontitis. Periodontitis is a condition where your gums start to pull away from the tooth, and there will be inflammation of the periodontal ligament. The loose periodontal ligament will make the tooth mobile, and in severe cases, teeth may fall because of uncontrolled diabetes that ends in periodontitis. In diabetic conditions, you have to visit a periodontist to take care of your gums and periodontal condition. They may advise on a good diet, gum surgery or root planing, and oral hygiene procedures.

2. High Blood Pressure:

Individuals with gum disease are less likely to have controlled blood pressure with medication. People with gum disease will have a slightly higher blood pressure than individuals with healthy gums. Hypertension patients tend to have red gums and bleeding gums. Medications for hypertension will cause dry mouth and ultimately lead to tooth decay. Poor oral health interferes with blood pressure control and so leads to hypertension. Periodontitis is a condition of gingival inflammation and associated with tooth damage or mobility that appears to worsen the blood pressure and interfere with hypertension treatment.

3. Heart Disease:

If there is infection and inflammation of gums, then there will be increased colonization of bacteria in the gums, and that bacteria travel through the bloodstream to the heart and cause cardiovascular problems. There are more chances of getting infective endocarditis in individuals with poor oral hygiene. There is more threat to individuals having a prosthetic valve and poor oral hygiene as there will be more colonization of bacteria in plaque, calculus, and inflamed gingiva. It is stated that in individuals having periodontitis, the chances of heart problems will be twice greater. So healthier you keep your teeth and gums, ultimately you lower the risk of heart diseases.

4. Long-Term Kidney Disease or Chronic Kidney Disorder:

There is an increased prevalence of oral lesions in individuals having long-standing kidney disease. There will be abnormal lip pigmentation, halitosis, periodontitis, candidiasis-like lesions. These conditions are because of reduced glomerular filtration rate in chronic kidney disorder individuals. So infection and inflammation of gums lead to infection elsewhere in the body. Likewise, if you have a kidney disorder, then minor gum or periodontal infection could lead to more serious kidney diseases, so you need to see your dentist regularly to prevent serious complications.

5. Anemia:

Anemia is a condition of having decreased red blood cells than the normal range. That reduced red blood cell gives a pale appearance to the gingiva. Anemia needs to be taken into consideration as early as possible. There might be a severe internal bleeding complication associated with it. So on routine dental checkups, your dentist may advise you on some blood investigations after finding out a few signs associated with gingiva.

In individuals with sickle cell anemia, there can be associated oral problems such as yellowish tissue, delayed eruption of teeth, dentine enamel mineralization problems. There will be increased periodontitis in individuals having sickle cell anemia. The tongue becomes smooth and sore in sickle cell anemia. So it is clear that individuals having anemia may develop oral problems related to teeth and gums. On the other side, pale gingiva in an individual may show a systemic condition like anemia.

6. Lung Disease.

Lung diseases such as COPD, pneumonia, and bronchitis are interlinked with gum diseases and may worsen with existing gingival problems. When there is an increased amount of bacteria in the mouth, they can travel through the bloodstream to reach out to the lungs and trigger lung problems.

Smoking will be dangerous when you have lung diseases. Smoking also has deleterious effects on the gingiva and periodontal ligaments. So consult a dentist and doctor about oral health and lung problems to prevent complications.

7. HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus):

An early sign of HIV is an opportunistic fungal infection in the mouth such as thrush or candidiasis. Also, there will be a rash on the tongue, cheeks, or other sites in the oral cavity. Because of decreased immunity, there will be ulcers, mouth sores, or herpes-like conditions. A dental condition associated with HIV is treatable, but early diagnosis and management are necessary to prevent complications.

8. Rheumatoid Arthritis:

It is an autoimmune disorder. It is also linked with gum problems. When there is infection and inflammation of the gum, there could be an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis. The severity of rheumatoid arthritis is directly associated with gum conditions, as severe as it may lead to loosening the tooth. So individuals with rheumatoid arthritis need to consult doctors and dentists regularly to maintain dental and overall health.

9. Osteoporosis:

Osteoporosis commonly affects older women and men. Bones in this condition become more fragile and thin because of decreased calcium levels. This condition may lead to loosening of teeth, and it can also lead to an improper fit of dentures because of bone resorption or loss. When reviewing dental X-ray or OPG, one can see the decreased density of the bone that may be the cause of loose teeth. So there is a need for a regular checkup with a dentist and physician to treat the condition.

10. Obesity:

Obesity is being overweight. Studies show that fat cells trigger inflammation in the gingival tissue and periodontal tissues. So one needs to keep a watch on being healthy with controlled weight, which will reduce the chances of developing gum and periodontal conditions.


It is a known fact that oral infection, like periodontitis, may affect the course and pathogenesis of serious systemic diseases, like cardiovascular disease, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, and low birth weight, etc., so the health of your teeth and gums can actually predict your systemic condition.

Frequently Asked Questions


Which Diseases Have an Effect on the Teeth and Gums?

The following diseases affect the teeth and gums:
- Hypertension.
- Heart diseases.
- Diabetes.
- Prolonged kidney diseases.
- Lung Diseases.
- Obesity.
- Osteoporosis.
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
- HIV or AIDS.
- Anemia.


What Are the Different Systemic Conditions Considered in Dentistry?

The various systemic conditions considered in dentistry are malnutrition, tobacco, stress, diabetes, HIV or AIDS, medications, and immunosuppression. For patients with regular dental visits, their dentist is usually the first to recognize these conditions' oral manifestations and refer them further to the appropriate health professionals.


Which Systemic Factors Cause Periodontal Diseases?

Systemic factors for periodontal diseases include poorly controlled diabetes mellitus, smoking, stress, etc. They cause vasoconstriction of the peripheral arterioles, leading to decreased blood flow to the gingiva. This provides sufficient time for the anaerobes to survive in the tissues, activating the latent collagenases.


Do Autoimmune Diseases Affect the Gums?

Gum inflammation is linked to several factors, including autoimmune disorders like lupus erythematosus, Crohn's disease, and scleroderma. Gingivitis, or gum inflammation, causes swollen or red gums, predisposing to gum diseases.


Which Underlying Health Conditions Predispose Gum Diseases?

The following health conditions can cause gum disease:
- Gingivitis.
- Poor oral habits.
- Smoking or chewing tobacco.
- Hormonal changes, particularly during pregnancy or menopause.
- Recreational consumption of drugs, like smoking marijuana or vaping.
- Obesity.
- Poor nutrition, involving vitamin C deficiency.
- Genetic factors.
- Drugs that result in dry mouth or gum issues.
- Immunosuppressive diseases, like leukemia, HIV, or AIDS, and cancer treatment.
- Some diseases, like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn's disease.


What Does a Systemic Infectious Disease Mean?

An infection that has spread to the bloodstream is known as a systemic infection. Systemic means involving the entire body instead of a single organ or body part. For instance, systemic disorders, like hypertension, or systemic diseases, like the flu, affect the whole body.


Can Anemia Be Considered a Systemic Disease?

Anemia occurs when the body lacks sufficient healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin to transport adequate oxygen to and from the body's tissues. Anemia results in tiredness and generalized weakness. It is the most common blood abnormality seen among systemic disorders.


Does Lupus Harm Gums?

A recent study shows that lupus is significantly related to gum disease or periodontitis. Periodontitis is a critical infection characterized by swollen and bleeding gums, which can eventually lead to tooth loss.


Does Lupus Harm the Teeth?

In the latest literature review, researchers found that lupus patients are at a greater risk of jeopardizing their oral health, with increased susceptibility to periodontal or gum diseases and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.


Can Diabetes Lead To Gum Disease?

Gum disease is the most common and critical oral problem linked to diabetes. The disease progresses from bleeding or swollen gums to tooth loss if left untreated. High blood glucose levels also increase the risk of gum disease progression.


Is Depression Counted Among Systemic Diseases?

Depression can be regarded as a systemic illness, as it causes several biological changes that lead to various diseases and the worsening of existing issues. It results in severe manifestations that affect an individual's daily activities, like sleeping, eating, working, etc.


Can Sickness Affect the Gums?

The flu, common cold, sinus infections, and certain E.N.T. (ear, nose, and throat) problems can cause pain in and around the teeth and gums. In cases of illness or women with hormonal changes, sometimes the mouth manifests the symptoms earlier than those involving other body parts, such as gingival inflammation.


Is Gum Disease Related to Other Health Issues?

The bacteria causing periodontitis can enter the bloodstream through the gingiva, possibly affecting other body parts. For instance, periodontitis is related to various diseases, such as respiratory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, coronary artery disease, and diabetes.


Can a Dentist Recognize Lupus?

Most lupus diagnoses occur without a dentist’s intervention. However, a dentist can diagnose lupus, which may include some oral involvement. So, a regular dental visit can help recognize and treat any oral problems associated with lupus.


Can Increased Sugar Cause Gum Pain?

Generally, the added sugars in most sweets are bad for the gums, as they bind to the gums and trigger eroding acid release. Cold and hot foods can also irritate gums at places where they have already started receding, thus exposing the roots of the teeth to hot and cold sensations.
Dr. Kandi Disha Yermal
Dr. Kandi Disha Yermal



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