Oral & Vision Health Blog

Gum Disease: How It Can Harm Your Health

You've probably heard about gum disease and how if it goes unchecked, it will eventually lead to tooth loss. But, that's not the only problem ... 

More and more studies show that certain diseases and conditions may be linked to gum disease. This includes cardiovascular disease, complications with diabetes, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease and certain cancers. Although the cause and effect are still unclear, one thing is for certain: treating periodontal disease may help reduce these health risks.

Cardiovascular Disease

According to studies, if you have gum disease, you’re twice as likely to have cardiovascular disease. How? When oral bacteria gets into the blood stream, they trigger inflammation which causes the blood cells to swell and clog the arteries. Clogged arteries can put your heart health at great risk, and the reverse is also being studied. Plaque in blood vessels may cause oral bacteria to build up, further narrowing the blood vessels. This leads to cardiovascular disease.


Gum disease can increase complications of diabetes and vice versa. If you have it, it’s harder to control blood glucose levels. And, diabetes makes the body more prone to infection. This may increase the likelihood of gum infection.


Over 10 million people in the United States have osteoporosis. Although it mainly affects older people (particularly females), it can happen to anyone at any age. Osteoporosis causes bone density to decrease which results in fragile bones that can break easily. Gum disease is also a degenerative bone disease that affects the jawbone. Studies show that osteoporosis could be a risk factor for the progression of periodontal disease.

Respiratory Disease

Gum disease can also affect respiratory diseases, such as pneumonia. Oral bacteria may cause respiratory problems when it’s inhaled into lungs. It may increase risks of developing respiratory disease or worsen an existing condition.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Researchers found a certain oral bacteria associated with periodontal disease in four out of 10 Alzheimer’s patients. Oral bacteria that have built up from lack of oral care can enter the blood stream and may affect brain function.


Various studies indicate a strong relationship between gum disease and cancer. And that is not limited to severe cases. Even moderate cases have been shown to increase cancer by 14 percent. These include kidney, pancreatic, lung and blood cancers.

Other Diseases

Periodontal disease also affects other diseases such as immune disorders and causes complications for those suffering from HIV/AIDS. It has also been suspected as a factor in premature birth and low birth weight.

All of this is to say that it’s important to maintain good oral hygiene. Daily brushing (at least twice a day), flossing and rinsing with an antimicrobial mouthwash will help oral and overall health. Go for regular cleanings and checkups to keep gum disease away! Having a good oral hygiene routine means knowing your teeth inside and out. Download our infographic today to learn about the different parts of your teeth and what they do! 

anatomy of the tooth