Healthy Teeth & Mouth

How does gum disease affect my body?

A Answers (6)

  • AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answered
    plaque animation
    The plaque that builds up around your teeth can hurt your heart as well as your gums. Watch this animation to see how plaque in your mouth can build up and block the arteries leading to the heart.

    Helpful? 1 person found this helpful.
  • Research between systemic diseases and periodontal diseases is ongoing. While a link is not conclusive, some studies indicate that severe gum disease may be associated with several other health conditions such as diabetes or stroke.

    It is possible to have gum disease and have no warning signs. That is one reason why regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are very important. Treatment methods depend upon the type of disease and how far the condition has progressed. Good dental care at home is essential to help keep periodontal disease from becoming more serious or recurring.
  • ATodd Welch, Periodontics, answered
    Current models of mucosal surfaces of oral, gut, lung, and skin tissue postulate that local bacterial antigens, derived from biofilms on surfaces, regulate local tolerance, local immune response, and systemic response by way of an "information relay system" through a series of nuclear factor-kappa beta pathways to synthesize and secrete cytokines and chemokines to regulate the inflammatory process at local as well as distant sites. Evidence is also accumulating that the predominant cells of the periodontium, gingival fibroblasts, are capable of producing prostaglandins, interleukins (IL-1beta [β], IL-6, IL-8), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), and interferon- gamma (IFN-γ). It is hypothesized that these mediators modulate inflammation locally as well as at a distant site of infection.

    One presupposes the direct role of oral bacteria or their products in the pathogenesis of atherosclerotic plaque in myocardial infarctions. An alternative explanation is the possible role of mediators in inflammation initiated by periodontal pathogens in the development of chronic complications. There is general agreement that chronic diseases, such as atherosclerosis, stroke, and diabetes, are multifactorial in origin. But there is growing evidence that these diseases are influenced by gingival inflammation and chronic periodontal infections. In a series of cross-sectional studies, a strong relationship has been found between acutephase C-reactive protein (CRP) in serum and the severity of periodontal diseases. CRP is triggered by infections, trauma, necrosis, and malignancy, and is also linked to heart disease and diabetes. CRP is synthesized in the liver in response to proinflammatory cytokines such as IL-1α, IL-1β, and IL-6. TNF-α, IFN-γ, and transforming growth factor also participate in the production.

    The current therapeutic strategy to control periodontal infections involves mechanical removal of deposits, both supra- and subgingival.
  • ACarol Jahn, Dentist, answered
    Gum disease hurts your body in many ways. First and foremost; it can lead to pain, bone loss, and ultimately tooth loss. Our teeth are essential to healthy eating; when we lose the ability to chew well, it affects our overall nutrition and our body. Second, our teeth are integral to our smile. Tooth loss or discomfort with the way our mouth looks can lead to a loss of self-esteem and confidence. When we lose teeth, we also lose bone and that effects the structure of our face causing premature aging. 

    There is also growing evidence that the gum disease may effect the rest of our bodies too. When you have gum disease, your mouth is inflamed and these inflammatory agents may increase inflammation in other parts of your body. It has been observed that people with heart disease are more likely to have gum disease and vice versa. People with diabetes who have gum disease may have a harder time controlling their blood sugar.
  • ARealAge answered
    Gum disease hurts your mouth, but it also can affect your entire body. Researchers have found a link between periodontal (gum) disease and chronic health conditions, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Gum disease produces bacteria in your mouth that can flow into your bloodstream to other parts of your body. If you're already unhealthy, the bacteria can lead to heart disease and stroke. If you have diabetes, your condition can worsen due to gum disease. Maintain proper oral health to help prevent gum disease and damage to your body.
  • AHealthwise answered
    Milder types of gum disease (gingivitis) start when bacteria are left on teeth and gums and plaque forms. Plaque and the acids it produces irritate the gums, causing them to become red and swollen.
    • Plaque can harden into tartar (or calculus), a mineral buildup that also irritates gums and must be removed by a dental professional.
    • Untreated gingivitis can progress to advanced gum disease (periodontitis), causing gums to pull away from the teeth or recede down the root. This creates deep pockets. Plaque can grow in the pockets, further damaging the gums and breaking down bones that support the teeth.
    • Bone damage can loosen teeth, causing them to fall out or have to be removed.
    If a woman has gum disease during pregnancy, she may be at greater risk of having a premature, low-birth-weight baby.

    Studies have found a direct link between heart disease and the bacteria that cause gum disease. So taking good care of your teeth and gums may have benefits beyond keeping your mouth healthy.

    This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. To learn more visit 

    © Healthwise, Incorporated.

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