Models Depicting Older Mom and Two Younger Daughters with Gum Disease

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 47 percent of U.S. adults aged 30 and older have some form of gum disease. Research shows that untreated gum disease can cause other conditions to progress and affect your overall well-being. This article will explore six issues affected by gum disease and how you can prevent it.


What Health Issues Does Gum Disease Affect?

Gum disease creates inflammation in your mouth and health conditions that cause inflammation progress faster if you have gum disease.

1. Diabetes

Gum disease releases bacteria from your mouth into your bloodstream, and potent molecules in your body’s defense system can raise your blood sugar level. As a result, people with gum disease often have higher blood sugar levels than people without diabetes.

The American Dental Association article, Blood Disease Can Raise Your Blood Sugar, reveals that people with severe gum disease experience other health risks, including:

  • Higher long-term blood sugar levels
  • Developing type 2 diabetes
  • Difficulty controlling type 2 diabetes
  • Developing diabetes during pregnancy
  • Experiencing eye or kidney issues
  • Having a heart attack or stroke if they have diabetes

2. Heart Disease

Your body’s inflammatory response to gum disease can lead to narrowing blood vessels, blood clots, and heart disease. Research shows that gum disease increases the risk of heart attack by 49 percent.

The American Heart Association published study results on gum disease and a first heart attack risk. The study of 805 patients concluded that the risk of a first heart attack significantly increased in patients with gum disease, even after adjustment for other contributing factors.

3. Respiratory Disease

How can your gum health affect your lungs? Germs from our teeth and gums travel into our lungs, and healthy lungs can deal with the bacteria. But germs in weak or diseased-damaged lungs increase the symptoms and worsen lung problems, such as:

  • Acute bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Emphysema

4. Alzheimer’s Disease

Bacteria and inflammation from gum disease travel into your bloodstream and brain. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) Intramural Research Program used data from a study performed by the National Center for Health Statistics to examine the effects of gum disease on dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

The NIA’s analysis compared data of more than 6,000 patients with up to a 26-year follow-up.

Analysis findings:

  • Older adults with signs of gum disease and mouth infections at the beginning of the study were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s during the study period.
  • In adults aged 65 or older, Alzheimer’s diagnoses and deaths were linked with antibodies against the oral bacteria that promote gum disease.

5. High Blood Pressure

Research results published in the American Heart Association Journal, Hypertension, reveal the link between gum disease and high blood pressure. Study results show that healthy individuals with gum disease had higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure than people without gum disease.

Regarding the study, author Francesco D’Aiuto, DMD, PhD of the UCL Eastman Dental Institute in London, United Kingdom, observed:

  • Gum disease bacteria triggers inflammation that impacts high blood pressure.
  • The link between gum disease and elevated blood pressure occurs before a person develops high blood pressure.
  • A high number of people are unaware that they have hypertension.

6. COVID-19

New research from the Journal of Clinical Periodontology found a link between gum disease and severe COVID-19-related complications. The study of 568 patients used national electronic health records from Qatar between February and July 2020.

What link did the study find between the severe form of gum disease and COVID-19?

  • Patients were at least three times more likely to have COVID‐19 complications that require ventilation or ICU admission or result in death.
  • Patients’ blood samples showed increased white blood cell levels and other signs of severe COVID-19 complications.

How Can You Prevent Gum Disease from Creating Other Health Issues?

You can prevent gum disease with an oral hygiene routine to protect your teeth and gums. Your routine should include:

  • Twice daily, brush thoroughly along your gumline and on all surfaces of your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  • Floss before bedtime to remove plaque from tooth surfaces.
  • Regularly see your dentist for an exam and hygiene appointment to remove plaque and stubborn tartar from your teeth.
  • Be alert to the signs and symptoms of gum disease, including swollen, receding, or bleeding gums and sensitive or loose teeth.
  • Schedule an appointment with a periodontist to treat and control gum disease.

MK Periodontics and Implants Can Help You Control Gum Disease

If you live or work near Tacoma, Washington, Dr. Karbakhsch and Dr. Katafuchi are board-certified specialists in diagnosing and treating gum disease. Request an appointment at MK Periodontics and Implants today. We will warmly welcome you, get to know you, and complete a thorough exam before explaining your treatment options for controlling gum disease.