Grosse Pointe & Shelby Township


Long-Term Gum Disease Effects on Your Health

A woman looking at her healthy teeth in a mirror in a dentist’s chair.

Good dental health requires daily attention. Every time you skip brushing or flossing, you increase your chances of developing early stages of gum disease. As this gum disease progresses, it can turn into severe periodontal disease. While many considering bleeding gums and tooth aches to be the worst part of gingivitis, there are serious gum disease effects on your health that impact your overall body.

What Causes Gum Disease?

Every mouth has bacteria – even if you’re fastidious with brushing, flossing and using mouth rinses. When you forget to brush or don’t brush adequately, the bacteria have a chance to grow and harden into plaque on your teeth or gums.

Your immune system responds to plaque and tries to kill it, leading to inflammation. Chronic inflammation can have a negative effect on your health. If you brush away the plaque, or visit a dentist to receive a dental cleaning, you can reverse the onset of gingivitis and reduce or eliminate the inflammation.

Gum Disease Effects on Your Body

Common gum disease effects on your oral health are well-known to most. Bleeding gums, tooth pain and tooth decay are often considered the only impacts of poor dental health. But as gum disease advances to periodontal disease, it can begin to cause several issues with your health – and not just your mouth!

Receding Gums

Gum disease is the most likely cause of gum recession in your mouth. Bacteria gum infections slowly destroy gum tissue in your mouth. Not only does this damage your gums, but it also causes your teeth to become more exposed.

The increased exposure from gum loss creates smalls pockets in your mouth that bacteria can hide in. When this happens, your risk for decay or worsening periodontal disease increases dramatically. As your gum disease effects become more severe, you can actually lose your teeth.

Unfortunately, when gum disease reaches this stage, it can have a cascading effect on your oral health. The new pockets created by missing teeth offer even more surface area for plaque to thrive – exacerbating your periodontal disease. This will quickly lead to more lost teeth if you don’t not seek intervention from your dentist.

This is why it’s also important to wear mouth guards during sports – losing a tooth is a very serious dental health concern!

Bone Loss

There are two ways that gum disease can contribute to bone loss in your mouth:

Bacterial – Untreated, chronic periodontitis can allow bacteria to directly eat away at the bone and periodontal ligaments in your mouth. These ligaments are what connect your teeth to the bone.

Tooth Loss – Your jawbone requires chewing pressure and stimulation. When you lose a tooth, the bone in that area is reabsorbed into the body. If you don’t replace your tooth, such as with dental implants, you can experience bone loss.

Bone loss is a significant problem that should be avoided if possible. Over time, the loss of bone can impact your bite and shape of your mouth. This can lead to troubles eating, talking and even simply breathing.

Other Gum Disease Effects

Heart Disease

Did you know that there are links between periodontal disease and heart disease? Several epidemiological studies have been performed to investigate how gum disease and heart health are connected.

While the precise mechanism that connects the two is unknown, there is a clear increase in risk for heart disease for those that have chronic periodontitis. Around three-quarters of adults in the United States have some degree of gum disease, which makes this connection very concerning!


Connection to Respiratory Illness

 A woman with a cough.

Bacteria that is linked to bronchitis or pneumonia can come from mouth. When you have any stage of gum disease, you have an excess of bacteria on your gums and teeth. If this bacteria spreads to other parts of your body, it can lead to respiratory illness.

One study performed on 200 participants found that patients with respiratory disease also had worse periodontal disease than a control group. Like connections with heart disease, the study wasn’t able to find a direct causation between the two. However, the link does show even more evidence that oral health and your overall health are connected.

Connection to Rheumatoid Arthritis

Research shows that tooth loss is a good predicator of rheumatoid arthritis. Not only that – but the severity of your arthritis can be predicated by the severity of your periodontal disease. In this study, patients with fewer teeth also reported greater joint pain and were at a higher risk of joint inflammation.

Like respiratory illness, the connection between the two isn’t well-understood. Many researchers believe that the key is inflammation – which is caused by gum disease and is the source of many issues throughout the body.

Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy

During pregnancy, a mild form of gum disease known as pregnancy gingivitis is common – about 40 percent of women develop gingivitis during pregnancy. This is due to changes in hormone levels which can allow bacteria to grow more easily. Pregnancy also makes your gum tissue sensitive and more likely to respond to plaque.

Pregnancy gingivitis is a risk not only because of what it does to the mother, but how it can impact the pregnancy as well. There is a link between gum disease and premature birth. Pregnant women with chronic gum disease were four to seven times more likely to have a premature delivery versus those with healthy gums and teeth.

Contact us to set up an appointment

Are You Suffering from Gum Disease? Schedule an Appointment Today!

Whatever your dental needs, we’re here to help. If you have questions, or would like to speak with one of our periodontists in SE Michigan about your dental options, contact us!

Schedule an appointment with us today! New patients can receive FREE comprehensive exam and consultation, plus a full panoramic x-ray with a paid cleaning procedure (a $200 value)!

Grosse Pointe Farms: (313) 881-2480


Shelby Township: (586) 803-8300

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