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Does Gum Disease Affect Your Overall Health?

Published on May 03, 2014 and last reviewed on Dec 21, 2021   -  4 min read


Gum diseases can result in much more serious effects on one’s general health than missing and decayed teeth. This article aims to educate about the effects of gum and dental health on general health.

Does Gum Disease Affect Your Overall Health?


Dental diseases can be broadly classified as tooth decay and gum disease, and both of these diseases result from bacteria. Gum diseases are generally referred to as gingivitis and periodontitis. The term gingivitis means inflammation of the gums, and periodontitis suggests inflammation and destruction of the structures which support the teeth, including bone around teeth.

Gum disease and tooth decay have ill effects not only on oral health but also are harmful to 'overall health.' Tooth decay and missing teeth can prevent proper chewing ability and thereby affect the digestion of food, but gum diseases can result in much more serious effects on one’s general health.

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is the infection and inflammation of the gums, and gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease. The chief causes of gum disease are plaque and tartar (calculus) accumulation. Plaque is a soft, sticky deposit of dirt containing food debris, microorganisms, and saliva accumulating in between the teeth and gums. When left uncleaned, this plaque hardens to become tartar. Both plaque and tartar irritate and infect the gums, due to which swelling, bleeding, and redness of gums occur in gingivitis. This gingivitis, when left untreated, progresses to periodontitis which is the inflammation and destruction of tissues that offer anchorage and support to the teeth such as bone and fibers. Eventually, bone loss occurs, leading to loose teeth.

What Are the Symptoms of Gum Disease?

Gum diseases do not happen overnight. It is a gradual process. One can identify the signs and symptoms of gum disease in the early stage and get treated to prevent any complications. Symptoms of gum disease include,

Are Gum Health and Overall Health Interlinked?

Gum diseases do have a negative impact on the body's overall health, but many people still believe that its effects are limited only to the oral cavity. In recent years many researchers have shown that gum disease can contribute to and increase the risk and severity of:

How Does Gum Disease Affect Overall Health?

During gum disease, various chemical mediators are released by our body in response to bacterial infection. These chemical mediators are primarily intended to facilitate the process of removal of bacteria, but along with their primary function, they can also do damage to our own bodies.

1) Cardiovascular Disease (heart disease):

The chemical mediators produced by our body during gum disease, along with other risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as smoking, high cholesterol, etc., helps in the formation of atheroma (narrowing of blood vessels) in the coronary artery (arteries that supply blood to the heart muscles). When the blood vessels get narrowed, there is an insufficient supply of blood to the heart muscles; thereby, it results in heart problems. If this narrowing occurs in the brain's arteries, it may result in a stroke.

2) Diabetes:

The chemical mediators also have an effect on the blood glucose level. In known diabetic patients, these mediators increase the cell resistance to insulin; thereby, the glucose will not be utilized by the cells, which results in increased blood glucose levels. Numerous studies have shown that after treating the gum disease, the patients were able to keep their blood glucose level under control. Gum disease and diabetes are mutually related to one another. People with high blood glucose levels are susceptible to gum disease, and gum diseases affect their blood glucose levels. People with gum disease had higher HbA1c levels, and diabetic people who controlled their HbA1c levels had better improvement of their gum disease after oral health management measures.

3) Preterm Birth or Low Birth Weight:

We all know that premature babies suffer from many diseases later in their lives. Causes for premature delivery may be many, but can gum disease be one of the causes? Of course, yes. Any infection in the body produces numerous chemical mediators in the body. When secreted in excess, some of these chemical mediators, such as prostaglandins, can induce preterm labor. Gum disease, an infectious disease, also increases the prostaglandins in the systemic circulation, causing preterm delivery and low birth weight babies.

4) Respiratory Disease:

Though very rare and very few studies support the relationship between gum disease and respiratory disease, it is possible when the bacteria present in the mouth is aspirated into the lungs; it can result in respiratory diseases like pneumonia.

5) Alzheimer’s Disease:

A link between Alzheimer’s disease and periodontal disease also exists. It is believed that the bacteria from the diseased gums enter the circulation, reach the brain, and intensify the progression rate of Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid beta, a key biomarker found in the cerebrospinal fluid of people with Alzheimer’s disease, was found to be present in older people with marked periodontal disease.

How to Prevent Gum Diseases?

The first and essential step in preventing gum diseases is to practice proper oral hygiene methods. Brush your teeth twice daily in the morning and at night. Floss in between your teeth. Use Chlorhexidine mouth wash thirty minutes after brushing your teeth. Regularly meet your dentist even if you do not have any dental discomfort because your dentist can only catch certain signs of dental disease, and dental diseases show symptoms only after the condition has started to progress. Hence meet your dentist once every six months. If you have plaque or tartar, get it cleaned soon. The treatment generally includes scaling and root debridement (cleaning of teeth and root portions of the teeth), and in severe conditions, periodontal flap surgeries (gum surgeries) will be required.


Early detection of gum disease and thorough treatment can minimize the systemic effects of gum disease. The earlier the detection of gum disease, the lesser the complications caused by it, and the simpler the treatment will be.


Frequently Asked Questions


What Are the Common Gum Diseases?

The common gum diseases are gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the inflammatory stage of the lungs, whereas periodontitis is the severe stage of gingivitis, which occurs if the gingivitis is left untreated.


How Does Gum Disease Appear?

Gum diseases will give a dark red appearance to the gingiva. The gums might be swollen in some patients. In addition to this, there might be gingival bleeding in severe conditions. Sometimes, bleeding is initiated by brushing the teeth and biting hard foods.


Can Gum Diseases Become a Permanent Condition?

Gum diseases are not permanent. If hereditary causes are the reason for the occurence of periodontal conditions, then you have the possibility of getting gum diseases again and again. Frequent cleaning of the oral cavity might be required in such patients. If the condition is severe, it can be treated well with periodontal surgery.


Can Salt Water Rinse Heal Gum Infection?

Yes, salt water is helpful in treating the gum infection. Salt water has the ability to heal the infections in the body. It can also help in reducing the microbial load drastically. The inflammatory conditions in the gums and throat can be treated well with salt water gargling.


What Is the Treatment Option for Gum Disease?

The treatment for gum disease is decided according to the type of microorganism involved. If bacteria are the cause of gum disease, then appropriate antibiotics are prescribed. For mild cases, medication is the best treatment option. For severe cases, surgical management with periodontal surgery might be necessary.


What Is the Procedure to Make the Gums Healthy?

Oil pulling plays a very good role in enhancing gingival health. The oils that are recommended for oil pulling are sesame oil and coconut oil. You can also perform a gentle massage to the gingiva to promote the health of the gums.


How Can I Reverse Receding Gums At Home?

Rinsing with a solution of three percent hydrogen peroxide and water for 30 seconds can help in restoring the condition of receding gums. You should not drink this solution unknowingly. It is necessary to repeat this procedure three times a week.


What Vitamins Help in Promoting the Health of the Gums?

Vitamin C and vitamin D are helpful in maintaining a healthy state of the gums. The overall health of the oral cavity is promoted by vitamin D. In addition to these vitamins, iron also plays a vital role in maintaining good oral health.


How Long Does It Take to Cure Gum Disease?

The condition of gingivitis usually takes up to two weeks to heal. In severe cases, gingivitis takes a long duration to heal. For faster recovery, you can consume antibiotics after getting recommendations from your doctor.


What Happens if Gingivitis Is Left Untreated?

If gingivitis is left untreated, then it proceeds into a more severe form called periodontitis. It is possible to treat the condition easily in the gingivitis stage itself. If it proceeds to periodontitis, then the help of periodontal surgery procedures might be necessary.


What Is the Early Stage of Gum Disease?

Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease. It is seen along with inflammation with the gums. It is necessary to remove the plaque and maintain good oral hygiene to prevent the progression of the condition.


Is It Possible to Reverse Early Gum Disease?

Yes, gum disease is reversible. With proper home remedies, gum diseases can be destroyed in the initial stages. Gingivitis is not a deadly condition, and it is easily reversible.


How Can I Rebuild My Gums in a Natural Manner?

The usage of the following is recommended to cure the gums naturally.
- Septilin.
- Aloe Vera.
- Green Tea.
- Oil Pulling.
- Hydrogen Peroxide.
- Turmeric Gel.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids.


Is It Possible to Cure Gum Diseases?

Yes, gum disease can be cured. Based on the severity of the condition, the disease can be treated. In some cases, scaling and root planing is sufficient to treat the gums. In other cases, medications might be necessary to heal the condition fully. You should visit your dentist to identify the severity of the condition.


How to Treat Gum Disease?

Gum diseases can be treated by maintaining proper oral hygiene. It is necessary to brush your teeth twice a day. You have to floss your teeth regularly. Usage of mouthwashes is recommended once or twice a week. In addition to this, you have to go for a cleaning procedure in the dental setup.

Last reviewed at:
21 Dec 2021  -  4 min read




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