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How does gum disease affect systemic health?


Written by Charan

Last updated

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, can have a significant impact on systemic health. It is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the tissues surrounding the teeth, including the gums, periodontal ligaments, and alveolar bone.

When gum disease is left untreated, it can lead to the destruction of these supporting structures and the eventual loss of teeth. However, the effects of gum disease are not limited to the mouth. The inflammation and bacteria associated with gum disease can enter the bloodstream and affect other parts of the body, contributing to various systemic health conditions.

One of the main ways gum disease affects systemic health is through the release of inflammatory substances into the bloodstream. These substances can trigger a systemic inflammatory response, which can contribute to the development or worsening of conditions such as:

  • Cardiovascular disease: The inflammatory substances from gum disease can contribute to the formation of plaques in the arteries, leading to atherosclerosis and an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
  • Diabetes: Gum disease can make it more difficult to control blood sugar levels, as the inflammation in the mouth can affect insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism.
  • Respiratory infections: The bacteria from the mouth can be inhaled into the lungs, increasing the risk of respiratory infections such as pneumonia.
  • Pregnancy complications: Pregnant women with gum disease have a higher risk of premature birth, low birth weight babies, and preeclampsia.
  • Alzheimer's disease: Some studies have suggested a possible link between the bacteria associated with gum disease and an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Preventing and managing gum disease is not only important for oral health but also for overall systemic health. Regular dental check-ups, professional cleanings, and good oral hygiene practices, such as brushing and flossing, can help prevent gum disease or catch it in its early stages when it is more easily treatable. Additionally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and avoiding tobacco use, can contribute to both oral and systemic health.