Can Gum Disease Affect Your Physical Health?

The thing about gum disease is that many people don’t consider it much of a threat, even if they already exhibit the early symptoms of the condition. Many people also don’t realize how wide spread the dental health issue is (it affects over 70% of adults in the United States), or that it’s the number one cause of permanent adult tooth loss. Still, the threat of gum disease extends beyond your oral tissues, and according to numerous studies, can also increase your risk factors for several systemic diseases.

The Dangers Behind Gum Disease

Gingivitis, which is often used synonymously with gum disease, is actually the first stage of the condition, and describes an infection in your gums caused by excessive oral bacteria. As bacteria overrun your periodontal tissues, your gums can become swollen, and will bleed when you brush your teeth (and sometimes, when you chew your food). The damage grows worse as gingivitis becomes gum disease, and the harm to your gums can extend to your jawbone if left untreated. The destruction leaves your teeth without enough support, and you may lose one or more of them by the time you visit the dentist and receive treatment.

The Dangers Beyond Gum Disease

Though inflammation is a common response by your immune system to drive out harmful microorganisms, certain oral bacteria (particularly, Porphyromonas gingivalis) can turn the mechanism against you. The microbes trick your immune system, making it unable to control destructive inflammation in your gums. When your oral tissues bleed, P. gingivalis bacteria can enter your bloodstream and travel to other tissues. By exacerbating inflammation throughout your body, gum disease bacteria can significantly raise your risks of heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, respiratory diseases, and many more.


As a native Texan, Gregory Wright, DDS, opened his private practice in Southlake, TX in 1992. He and Dr. Victoria Heron are happily accepting new patients from Southlake, Grapevine, Keller, Trophy Club, Colleyville, and all surrounding communities. To learn more, call our office today at (817) 481-7999.