What are the health risks of gum disease?

There are a number of health problems associated with gum disease, an infection of the tissues that support your teeth. The two major oral problems associated with gum disease are gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is a milder and reversible form of periodontal disease that only affects the gums. It may lead to more serious, destructive forms of periodontal disease called periodontitis, which can seriously damage the gums and bone that support the teeth causing them to become loose, fall out or need to be removed by a dentist.

Here are some of the warning signs that you have gum disease:
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Red, swollen, tender gums
  • Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • Persistent bad breath or bad taste
  • Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
  • Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Any change in the fit of partial dentures
Here are some factors that increase the risk of developing periodontal disease:
  • Tobacco smoking or chewing
  • Systemic diseases such as diabetes
  • Some types of medication such as steroids, some types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives
  • Bridges that no longer fit properly
  • Crooked teeth
  • Fillings that have become defective
  • Pregnancy or use of oral contraceptives
It is possible to have gum disease and not have any 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 oral hygiene at home is essential to help keeping gum disease from becoming more serious or recurring. Brush, clean between your teeth, eat a balanced diet, and schedule regular dental visits for a lifetime of healthy smiles.
Gum disease (also called periodontal disease) has a number of health risks. Damage to your gums from infection can lead to lost teeth. Gum disease also can cause inflammation throughout your body. This has been linked to heart disease and stroke. In pregnant women, gum disease has been linked to babies born too soon or born weighing too little. Gum disease can also make it harder for people with diabetes to control their blood sugar.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
People with gum disease (periodontal disease and gingivitis) may harbor up to 500 species of bacteria, and the proximity of that bacteria to the normally sterile bloodstream can be worrisome. Bacteria can enter small blood vessels, travel to other parts of the body, release toxins, and trigger inflammatory chemicals that assault arteries and organs. Gum disease and tooth loss now is considered a harbinger for coronary artery disease, infective endocarditis, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, kidney disease, and stroke. Periodontal bacteria also have been detected in the mouths and amniotic fluid of women who have experienced premature labor or miscarriage. This also may contribute to low birth weight.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.