Learn about the connection between your health and gum disease.

Gum disease is a disease caused by a bacterial infection of the soft tissue (gums) and jaw-bone supporting your teeth.

It is difficult for everyone to remove all the plaque (food and bacteria) from around your teeth and gums. The plaque left behind after brushing and flossing lead to inflamed gums, soft tissue damage, receding gums, cold and sweet sensitivity, pockets between the teeth and gums, jaw-bone loss and eventually premature tooth loss.

Early signs of gum disease may be:

  • red and inflamed gums
  • bleeding when you brush or floss
  • bad breath
  • or there may be no signs of gum disease until the advanced stages.

Overall health risks of uncontrolled gum disease are that problems that start in your mouth can spread to the rest of your body.

Uncontrolled gum infections may increase the risk of:

  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • lung disease
  • problems in pregnancy
  • complications related to diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s disease

An example of the disease processes is as follows:

  • Bacteria already found in your mouth form a film underneath the gums in a gum pocket.
  • Bacteria and their by-products trigger an inflammatory response
  • Your immune system creates white blood cells and proteins to fight the inflammation.
  • The combination of bacteria, toxins, white blood cells and acute phase proteins damages the cell that line your coronary arteries, resulting in plaques that lead to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).