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4 Ways Gum Disease Is Linked to Your Health

Connecting Your Oral Health to Your Overall Health

When you floss or brush your teeth and your gums start to bleed — this is a likely indication of gingivitis or another periodontal disease. Periodontal disease, or gum disease, often refers to inflammation of your gums. Without treatment, gum disease can cause the breakdown of your gums and bone tissues that keep your teeth in place. In more severe cases, it can also cause the loosening of your teeth or tooth loss.

But did you know that gum disease is not only limited to your oral health? Recently, there have been research studies connecting your oral health to your overall health.

If you are experiencing symptoms of gum disease, you may want to consider checking in with your primary care physician to rule out other health conditions.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

Symptoms of gum disease go far beyond bleeding gums when brushing or flossing your teeth. If you have any of the following other symptoms, you may want to schedule an appointment with your dentist.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain with chewing.
  • Persistent bad breath.
  • Highly sensitive teeth.
  • Swollen, red gums.
  • Receding gums or sunken teeth.
  • Loose teeth or changes in bite.

Health Conditions Linked to Gum Disease

Heart Disease

Heart disease is typically caused by the narrowing or blockage of important blood vessels. According to an article in the American Heart Association’s journal, Hypertension, researchers conclude that oral inflammation damages these significant blood vessels, affecting overall heart health.

Further analysis shows that people with healthier gums have lower blood pressure and respond better to blood pressure-lowering medications. Poorly controlled high blood pressure (hypertension) can lead to more severe health conditions like heart failure, strokes, or kidney disease.

Both clinicians and patients should be aware of the link between hypertension and gum disease, so both conditions are adequately monitored.


Osteoporosis is a condition that affects your bone health — specifically the strength and density of your bones. Periodontitis, a serious infection of the gums, can also damage your bones, specifically your jawbones.

There are many shared risk factors between both conditions, including age, genetics, and vitamin deficiencies. Both conditions could also be risk factors for each other. In fact, receding gums is an early symptom of osteoporosis that often gets overlooked.

If you are experiencing one or both of these health conditions, speak to both your dentist and general practitioner to manage your symptoms.

Respiratory Health

Did you know gum disease can increase your risk of bronchitis and pneumonia? Poor oral health and periodontal disease can lead to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria that spreads from the mouth to the lungs.

The spreading of this bacteria can also increase the risk of emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). If you have a chronic cough and gum disease, schedule an appointment with medical professionals to address both conditions.

In the meantime, make sure you are properly brushing and flossing your teeth to keep your gums strong and healthy!


According to the American Dental Association, people with uncontrolled diabetes have more gum disease than those without diabetes. This may be due to gum disease raising blood sugar levels in people. However, it could also be due to the high blood sugar from diabetes causing higher levels of sugar in your saliva, which causes harmful germs and plaque to grow.

If you have diabetes, keeping your gums healthy can help you manage and control your symptoms and overall health.

What You Can Do

Most importantly, keep up with your proper oral health habits to help prevent gum disease and tooth decay. This includes brushing regularly two times a day for two minutes each time. Floss at least once per day and rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash if you desire.

The best and most effective way to prevent and treat gum disease is by attending your bi-annual dental appointments. At Boise River Dental, we focus on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of gum diseases, as well as cosmetic periodontal procedures.

Contact us online or call our office at (208) 400-5203 to schedule your next dental exam and keep your smile shining bright.