Of course gum disease affects your gums. There is no question there. You likely know that if your gums are red and inflamed and if they bleed when you floss and brush you likely have at least the beginning stages of gum disease. You probably also know it’s vital to get it treated earlier rather than later. But, did you know that it’s reversible in its earlier stages but as it progresses the damage it causes becomes irreversible? Of course the damage it can cause happens in your mouth with things like tooth loss, but gum disease can also affect the rest of your body and have far reaching implications. Much farther than many people realize. 

Alzheimer’s Disease

Several large studies in recent years have linked dementia and gum disease, some through a bacteria called Porphyromonas gingivalis common in chronic gum disease and found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s. However, it’s not clear whether this bacteria, a modified immune response, or other factors explain the link.

Cardiovascular Disease

Study after study continues to show the link between cardiovascular disease and gum disease. In one such large study of over 1,600 people aged over 60, gum disease was linked with an almost 30 percent higher risk of a first heart attack.

Type 2 Diabetes

Gum disease’s relationship to diabetes is two-fold. On the one-hand, gum disease complicates diabetes and on the other hand, diabetes complicates gum disease. Several clinical trials have shown an intensive dental cleaning can improve blood sugar control in diabetic patients for several months, further showing the links between the two diseases.


Patients who reported having a history of gum disease were shown to have a 43 percent greater risk of esophageal cancer, and a 52 percent greater risk of stomach cancer. Other research has also reported people with chronic gum disease had a between 14-20 percent higher risk of developing any type of cancer. It’s thought that inflammation is the biggest key factor in the link between cancer and gum disease but more research is needed to learn more. 

As you can see, gum disease increases the risk for and/or complicates many other very serious conditions in the body. The biggest thing to note is that gum disease is completely preventable! It’s almost always caused by poor oral hygiene and improving your oral hygiene routine can make the biggest difference in your risk for developing gum disease. If you need some tips on how to improve your oral hygiene routine we wrote a blog about it here. You can also talk to us at your next appointment about your specific needs.