Periodontics & Overall Health

Periodontal disease and overall health

Having a healthy mouth goes far beyond having a nice smile.  A number of health conditions have been scientifically linked with gum disease and poor oral health.  One study found that 40% of people with gum disease also reported having a second chronic condition.

Cardiovascular disease

Gum disease allows a much higher amount of bacteria and plaque into the bloodstream than when gums are healthy.  The bacteria which enter our bodies contain a clot-promoting protein which is thought to clog our blood vessels and arteries, potentially increasing the risk of stroke and heart disease.  People with periodontal disease are at greater risk of heart disease and have twice the risk of having a fatal heart attack than people without periodontal disease.


For some time, periodontal disease has been known to be interrelated with diabetes and increased risk of diabetic complications.  In addition, bleeding gums, bone loss and an increase in pocket depths may be an early indicator of diabetes.

Diabetics are more susceptible to periodontal disease and often require more periodontal care than non-diabetic patients. Periodontal disease activity is often related to the level of control of the diabetic patient’s blood sugar.

Premature or low-birthweight babies

Periodontal disease has now been shown to be a risk factor for having premature or low birthweight babies. Mothers with periodontal disease may be at a 7 times greater risk for having a premature or low birthweight baby.

Alzheimer’s Disease

The inflammatory substances released by gum infection have been linked to the inflammation in the brain that could be responsible for Alzheimer’s Disease.

Smoking and periodontal disease are linked as well. Smoking reduces the blood supply to the surrounding bone of the tooth. The intense heat and toxins produced during smoking can also affect the bacterial composition of the mouth and the body’s immune response to periodontal bacteria. Smoking reduces the effect of periodontal therapy regardless of the level of oral hygiene.

Pneumonia, pancreatic or kidney cancer

Oral infections can be associated with increased risk of pneumonia and some gastrointestinal and pancreatic cancers.  The body’s inflammatory response to periodontal bacteria can become difficult to control, leading to disease progression.


Risk factors

Although not capable of starting periodontal disease on their own, several risk factors can speed up the evolution of gum disease and further de-stabilize health due to inflammation.

Known risks 

  • Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors of periodontal disease. Not only do the chemicals in tobacco have a harmful effect on your oral tissues, but it can deplete vitamin C and other nutrients and reduce your resistance periodontal disease.
  • Genetics – some people are genetically susceptible to gum disease
  • Hormone changes or imbalances such as those experienced during puberty, menopause, or pregnancy. 30-60% of pregnant women experience red, tender or bleeding gums.
  • Stress – a contributing factor because it diminishes your body’s ability to fight infection.
  • Systemic illnesses such as diabetes, HIV / AIDS, cancer
  • Poor nutrition – especially a diet high in sugars and other sticky carbohydrates and low in the minerals and vitamins needed for healthy gums, teeth, and bones.

What you can do to stay healthy

Whenever possible, try to mitigate the risk factors.  To help you maintain your overall health, there are some treatments that may be recommended.

  • Wearing a custom-made bite plane to control the trauma caused by teeth grinding (bruxism)
  • Occlusal adjustment
  • Splinting of weakened adjacent teeth
  • Extraction of untreatable teeth
  • Antibiotics
  • Smoking cessation


Just like other major diseases, prevention, early detection, and treatment are key factors to help fight oral disease and associated health complications.

Maintain good oral health habits of brushing teeth for two minutes twice daily and use other oral hygiene techniques such as flossing, rinsing, and chewing sugarfree gum.

A visit to the dentist can contribute to a lifetime of good overall health and well-being.

Healthy mouth, healthy body!



Cliffcrest Dental

2995 Kingston Rd, Scarborough,
ON M1M 1P1, Canada