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Misunderstood Effects of Gum Disease

Team Periodontics

Periodontal disease, more commonly known as gum disease, is a common condition affecting nearly half of Americans. Gum disease is a bacterial infection of the gum tissue and support structures of the teeth. The cause of gum disease is a buildup of plaque on the teeth, a combination of food residue, saliva, and bacteria. When plaque remains on the teeth for too long without being brushed away or scraped away by a dentist, it can result in gum disease. 

Gum disease can lead to red, swollen, and even bleeding gums. The gum tissue may pull away from the teeth, allowing them to become loose and even fall out. These are the obvious effects of the infection, but gum disease can have long term effects on the body and overall health that are less obvious. Here are some of the other health conditions related to gum disease. 

Heart Disease

Studies have been conducted that show a correlation between gum disease and heart disease. There is a theory that the plaque that builds up on your teeth is the same plaque that builds up in your arteries. Plaque can narrow your arteries and even block them completely, leading to high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular issues. If you have gum disease, you are at a higher risk for heart disease. 

Another consideration in the connection between gum disease and heart disease is diet. If you eat a diet that is high in sugar and carbohydrates you’re more likely to have plaque buildup on your teeth. A diet high in sugar can cause you to be overweight, which increases your risk of heart disease. 

Lifestyle also plays a part. If you exercise more to keep your weight down and your heart in shape, you’re less likely to suffer from heart disease. Brushing your teeth and practicing good oral hygiene habits can reduce your risk of developing gum disease. Living a responsible lifestyle is a key element of preventing both conditions. 


Studies have also shown a correlation between gum disease and diabetes. People who suffer from diabetes, especially when it is not well managed, have a higher concentration of sugar in their saliva which leads to an increase of plaque on the teeth. This theory suggests that diabetes could cause gum disease. 

Alternatively, gum disease is often an indicator that diabetes could be present. Gum disease is often an early warning sign of the condition. For some diabetics, gum disease is one of the first symptoms that presents itself, leading to further tests and a potential diagnosis. 


There are studies that show that gum disease may be associated with certain types of cancer. One potential cause of cancer is chronic inflammation. Gum disease is an infection that causes inflammation in the gum tissue. The longer the inflammation is present without treatment, the higher the risk of developing oral cancer. 

According to a study performed by Harvard, gum disease can also increase your risk of esophageal cancer (the digestive tract leading from your mouth to your stomach) and gastric cancer (stomach). The theory is that the bacteria that cause gum disease may also be the cause of cancer growth in these areas of the body. 


A recent study has linked gum disease with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. This theory is still very new and not highly reliable, but it may have some merit. In our bodies we have a balance of healthy and unhealthy bacteria. When the balance skews toward having more unhealthy bacteria, an infection can result, like gum disease. The study showed that individuals 65 and older had an increased risk of Alzheimer's when gum disease is or has been present. 

Holzinger Periodontics Provides Treatment and Maintenance for Gum Disease

Treating and preventing gum disease is more important than you may think. The inflammation and harmful bacteria associated with gum disease can cause other serious health issues when it remains untreated. Gum disease can be easily avoided with proper oral hygiene habits, regular visits to the dentist or periodontist, and a low sugar diet. Holzinger Periodontics can diagnose, treat, and help you prevent gum disease through a variety of periodontal treatments. 

Call 860-347-8457 today to schedule an appointment at our Middletown office, 860-224-0433 for our New Britain office, or request an appointment. We look forward to helping you maintain excellent health with quality periodontal care.