Six dangers of untreated gum disease on the body

Six dangers of untreated gum disease on the body

It is very important that you remember to brush your teeth and floss daily, as this helps prevent gum disease. Gum disease has been proven to lead to some serious life-threatening diseases – so be vigilant and pedantic when it comes to your oral health.

Gum disease progresses virtually unnoticeable. If you don’t floss at least once a day and brush twice daily, bacteria-containing plaque build-up and toxicity then lead to the infection of gum tissues. This spreads to bone structure, which leads to tooth loss, chronic inflammation and abscesses.

Bad breath and other red flags

Don’t ignore bad breath, red or inflamed gums, bleeding gums, pain when chewing, loose teeth, sensitive teeth and receding gums because soon these symptoms will turn to inflammation of the gums or gingivitis. There is no way back from chronic periodontal disease, which dentists can treat and manage if detected in time. 

If left untreated, the bacterium gets into the bloodstream, where it can do untold damage to the body. On-going research is finding links between gum disease and diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, respiratory diseases and some cancers.

Good dental hygiene may reduce risks, dentists say. Keeping your mouth healthy could keep you healthy and dentists recommend brushing teeth twice a day and to floss at least once a day to remove as much debris as possible. Saliva production needs to be maintained as this helps prevent cavities. Chewing xylitol gum helps in this regard and so does a prescribed mouth rinse that contains fluoride. Avoid smoking as this is likely to cause gum disease. Clean dentures daily by brushing and soaking them in a denture cleaner. Electric toothbrushes are recommended for people who have difficulty using their hands. And never miss dentist check-ups and cleanings, at least twice a year.

Heart Disease

The link between gum disease and heart disease appears to be chronic inflammation, which most probably begins in the mouth and the bacteria soon spread via the blood to the cardiovascular system.  

The American Heart Association found that patients with poor dental hygiene are three times more likely to end up with heart disease. Researchers studying the relationship between periodontitis and coronary artery disease noted that gum disease increased a patient’s risk of heart attack by 49%, and it negatively affected hypertensive patients’ blood pressure, thereby adversely affecting their hypertension medications.


The relationship between gum disease and diabetes is a two-way street. A body with high glucose levels creates an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive, which leads to tooth decay and gingivitis. On the flipside, periodontal disease causes an increase in blood sugar levels, putting you at risk for Type 2 diabetes.

Rheumatoid arthritis

The Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans is the bacterium that triggers the inflammatory autoimmune response of the body’s defence system, which eventually leads to joint inflammation. The bacterium is found in people with gum disease and in rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.  

Alzheimer’s disease

Studies have found links between neurodegenerative Alzheimer’s disease, caries and periodontal disease.

According to Medical News Today, researchers link periodontal disease to an increased build-up of beta-amyloid – the neurological link to Alzheimer’s in the brain. Other studies show that the bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis is present in cases of periodontitis and in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.


Chronic inflammation is at the heart of lung diseases such as pneumonia, COPD and asthma. The American Thoracic Society reports that gum infection triggers the immune system to stay on high alert causing inflammation in the body, including the airways and lungs. Other studies indicate that long-term inflammation is caused by breathing in pathogens such as Porphyromonas gingivalis that take root and colonise the lungs. The likelihood of cancer developing is increased when changes in cells occur.

Possible Cancer Risk

A study recently published in Nature explains that gum disease could be linked to certain tumours of the gastrointestinal system. Researchers found that the enzyme T. denticola chymotrypsin-like proteinase, produced by the bacteria Treponema denticola, commonly associated with gum disease appears in the tumours too. The enzyme helps the bacteria infect tissue in the gums before it activates cancer cell promoting enzymes to invade healthy tissue.

To ignore oral hygiene and any of the warning signs that you have gum disease is dangerous because the outcome is bleak. This is why it is important to stay abreast of your oral health by having regular check-ups with your dentist. It is recommended that you have your mouth professionally inspected and cleaned every six months, and this can get pricey, especially if you have a large family to see to and you are paying out of pocket. 

 Affinity Dental has three tiers of dental insurance available at different price points. Each of these options covers certain specialist work to various degrees. 

Adults and children need to visit the dentist at least twice a year, and these dental maintenance appointments can start adding up.

Dental insurance will cover you for any additional treatments such as crowns, root canals or fillings, whether they are done at the dentist, or specialist practice.  

Usually, a dentist will refer you to a specialist, if needed. 

If you need to find an Affinity Dental approved dentist in your area, click here.

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