Gingivitis Leads to Periodontal Disease and Complications with Health

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Yes, your mouth, tongue, teeth and gums can tell a story about your overall health. Problems here can cause havoc elsewhere. Here’s why, if you have a bad taste in your mouth or bad breath (chronic halitosis) and red, sore or puffy gums that tend to bleed easily when you brush or floss, these are symptoms of a problem.

Gingivitis has a connection to many often serious health problems. Practicing good oral hygiene can decrease your risk of these health issues. (Celebrities with bad teeth).

What is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is inflammation and swelling of the gums. Inflammation is not good anywhere in the body. Our gums are normally pale pink and firm, these are healthy gums. When they become red, soft, and shiny and bleed easily, even with gentle tooth brushing something is wrong.

About half the adults in the U.S. have some stage of gingivitis. This is mainly caused by plaque. Plaque is a sticky substance consisting of mucus, food particles and bacteria that are present in the mouth. This builds up at the base of the teeth because of inadequate brushing and flossing.

When the gums become inflamed and swollen, the plaque causes a pocket to develop between the gum and the teeth and that space starts to trap food.

Other causes of gingivitis include vitamin deficiencies, glandular disorders, blood diseases, viral infections and taking certain medications. Particularly susceptible are pregnant women and diabetics.

Practicing good oral hygiene helps with preventing gingivitis and not having it lead to periodontitis.

Becoming Periodontal Disease

Years may go by where the bacteria in plaque destroy the bone surrounding and supporting the teeth. Here the pockets have formed between the teeth and gums as gingivitis now deepen gradually, exposing the root.

Plaque develops presenting an unpleasant taste in the mouth and offensive breath (halitosis). As the root becomes more exposed, the tooth or teeth become extremely sensitive to temperature in food and drinks. Abscesses can develop and possibly a tooth or more becomes loose and eventually falls out.

Contributing factors:

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Gingivitis and Complications

Heart health. With the gums chronically infected, this produces bacteria and inflammation that can travel to other areas of the body, in particular the heart. The bacteria in the mouth can find its way to the heart through the bloodstream.

There are several kinds of bacteria, in fact, related to gum disease that have been found in plaque having built up in the heart. It can attach to any damaged area and produce inflammation. And as this inflammation travels, infection sets in, resulting in gingivitis, further leading to periodontal and bone loss and putting you at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease.

Pneumonia. Some types of bacteria in the mouth can be pulled into the lungs, developing pneumonia. Periodontal disease may actually play a causal role in the development of pneumonia as well as bronchitis and emphysema. It can also make asthma and COPD worse with the chronic inflammation.

Diabetes. An important note is that gum disease will not cause diabetes but it can add to the risk. The gum disease releases inflammatory proteins; these can irritate the blood vessels inducing plaque to buildup. This can contribute to high blood sugar leading to diabetes. If your oral health is poor this makes for poor blood sugar control and more problems if you are diabetic.

Brain health. A plaque buildup in the heart could cause problems in the brain (stroke), as seen in some extreme cases. This could even put you at higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Because gum disease releases those inflammatory proteins, in addition to C-reactive protein (a substance made in the liver acting as a marker for disease and inflammation in the body) both of these can travel to the brain. More research still is needed to discover if a clearer connection exists.

This points to poor oral and maybe poor overall health, because if you aren’t taking care of yourself, the body and mind are affected.

Pregnancy issues. There is a connection between gum disease and pregnancy. It can increase complications for pre-term birth, restricted fetal growth and lower birth weight. But this involves more than remembering to floss.

A pregnant woman needs to follow good medical advice. After all, she has a baby on board, as well as herself to take care of. She should not smoke or drink alcohol, take a recommended foliate, have a good diet, exercise and keep up with her doctor and dental appointments.

It is thought that the bacteria can travel from the gums to the uterus and bring on a boost in prostaglandin, (a hormone to induce labor) this can interfere with delivery and fetal development.

Some pregnant women develop noncancerous “pregnancy tumors” (aka pyogenic granulomas) on their gums from excess plaque. Tumors start as a single, small, pale lump that bleeds easily.

Sticking to the dental health recommendations will prevent this. Don’t set yourself up for problems. The growths often shrink back post-birth. You can avoid the plaque growth with the right dental routine.

Oral cancer. One study says that women having gum disease are at fourteen percent more likely to develop oral cancer. Still, more research needs to be done in this area. It all points to an unhealthy lifestyle including poor oral health, especially in those who smoke and/or drink alcohol. There may even be a connection between poor oral health and other cancers; esophageal, lung, breast and skin cancer.

So the need to practice good oral hygiene is essential in preventing illness in other areas of our body.

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Mary is the founder of All About Our Skin. Former esthetician and CPC. Enjoys researching skincare and has been studying our skin for the past fourteen years.


The listing or mention of an organization, website or product is not meant as an endorsement or promotional purposes of any kind but simply to educate and pass on information.

This website is for informational purposes and not for diagnosis.

If you have a health condition or concern, please consult your doctor.

Researching content:   accessed 10/13/2020   accessed 10/13/2020

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