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Gum disease & general health

Gum disease advice

Gum Disease and
General Health

In recent years, there has been an ever-increasing amount of research that has linked periodontal or gum disease to many other systemic health conditions. These conditions include diabetes, heart and kidney disease, Alzheimer’s and asthma, making it all the more important to always seek the care from your dental team or periodontist with any concerns you may have about your oral health. Excellent oral and gum health is vitally important to your overall general wellbeing. Read in more detail about some of these systemic diseases or other health conditions and their links to periodontal disease below.

More about gum disease


Tobacco use, both smoking and chewing tobacco, seriously affects both general and oral health and is linked with many serious preventable illnesses such as cancer, lung disease and heart disease, as well as numerous other health problems. Tobacco users are also at increased risk for oral cancer and increased severity and extent of periodontal diseases.

Family genetics

If you have a family history of gum disease, then you are more likely to have problems with your gums. Studies have found that children of parents with periodontitis are more likely to have the bacteria thought to be responsible for causing plaque and eventually periodontal disease.


Periodontal diseases are one of the most common diseases in humans and although diabetes and periodontal diseases may seem unrelated we know that people who suffer with diabetes have a two-fold or greater risk of developing periodontal diseases.


Stress and emotional factors can play a significant role in the development of gum (periodontal) disease and the severity can increase with the amount of stress you are experiencing. Stress can make it more difficult for our bodies to fight infection and can also make it more difficult to look after yourself, when suffering with increased stress it is common for patient’s to engage in habits that can lead to gum disease such as smoking, poor dietary habits and forgetting to clean teeth properly.

Cardiovascular disease

There are many studies, which suggest that oral health and gum disease in particular may be related to serious conditions like heart disease. Studies have shown that people with moderate or advanced gum (periodontal) disease are more likely to have heart disease than those with healthy gums.


It is stated that between 60% and 70% experience gingivitis whilst pregnant. The direct connection between pregnancy and red, swollen or bleeding gums is due the increased levels of the hormone, progesterone. The high levels cause an increased response to the plaque bacteria that builds up along the gum line, leading to the same gingivitis that occurs outside of pregnancy. It’s important to seek the care and advice from your periodontist during this special time in your life to treat the gingivitis and to stop the infection from progressing.


Scientific research has indicated that suffering from periodontal disease can significantly increase your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease. This is thought to stem from the bacteria destroying the gums entering the bloodstream through everyday activities, such as eating and tooth brushing. Once in your bloodstream, the bacteria can then access other parts of the body, including the brain.

If the bacteria reaches the brain, it can trigger an immune system response, killing brain cells, leading to significant changes in the brain – typically evidenced in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients.

Respiratory disease

Researchers have also concluded a link between periodontal disease and the worsening of respiratory diseases including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It has also been found that gum disease may play a causal role in the contraction of pneumonia, bronchitis and emphysema. 

These respiratory diseases are thought to occur due to the inhalation of infected bacterial fine droplets from the mouth into the lungs. Other possible causes of the link between periodontal and respiratory diseases include:

  • Low immunity: Having low immunity allows oral bacteria to go unchallenged by the body’s immune system, accelerating the progression of gum disease.
  • Inflammation: Periodontitis causes the inflammation and irritation of oral tissue. It’s well documented that the oral bacteria causing the inflammation can also contribute to inflammation in the lining of the lungs, limiting the amount of air that can freely pass to and from the lungs.
If you have any concerns about your gum health, please visit your dentist as soon as possible for diagnosis and advice. Or call us on 020 3925 1938 to speak to our friendly team or fill out our contact form.