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Why Gum Disease Is Linked to Serious Health Problems

Jul 02, 2023
No man is an island — and neither is your oral health. Keep reading to find out how the status of your teeth and gums can impact the rest of your well-being.

Bad breath and a bothersome toothache are the least of your worries when it comes to oral health issues. Researchers have linked gum disease to various health problems, including diabetes, heart and kidney disease, asthma, osteoporosis, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. 

The best way to get out in front of it is to understand exactly why it happens. 

Scott McPherson, DDS, Jason Brown, DDS, and the rest of our team at Campustown Dental in Ames, Iowa, have seen firsthand the path of destruction gum disease can leave in its wake. 

We want our patients to have all the facts about the things that threaten their well-being. So, here, we explore the connection between gum disease and the serious health problems it can cause and exacerbate. 

What exactly is gum disease?

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a common oral health condition affecting your gums and surrounding tissues. It stems from a buildup of plaque (a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth), which can accumulate when you have poor oral hygiene. Left unchecked, plaque can harden into tartar, leading to inflammation and infection of the gums. 

The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis, which causes red, swollen gums that tend to bleed easily. Without prompt treatment, gingivitis progresses to periodontitis, where the infection spreads beneath the gum line, causing your gums to recede and the bone supporting your teeth to deteriorate. 

Ultimately, untreated gum disease can lead to tooth loss and, as we discuss below, other health problems. 

How does gum disease affect my overall health?

A growing amount of research draws a direct connection between gum disease and complications in other parts of your body. The main culprits are inflammation and bacteria, which contribute to the development or worsening of several health problems. 

For instance, the American Academy of Periodontology has linked gum disease to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes. The chronic inflammation triggered by gum disease can also affect your respiratory system and worsen conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and trigger pneumonia. 

Additionally, the bacteria that cause gum disease can seep into your bloodstream through your gum tissue and reach distant parts of your body. The result can be complications in diabetes management, pregnancy, and even certain types of cancer. 

I have gum disease. Now what?

Having gum disease doesn't mean you’re doomed to develop a related health problem — and you’re certainly not alone. Almost half of adults in the United States have gum disease. 

Because gum disease puts your health status DEFCON 1, it’s crucial to prioritize good oral hygiene and seek prompt treatment for gum disease to protect oral health and overall well-being.

At Campustown Dental, we take periodontics very seriously and have made it a significant focus of our practice. We offer the best, most advanced periodontal treatments, including Perio Protect®


During the Perio Protect treatment, you wear custom-fitted clear plastic appliances called Perio Trays™ that hold medication against your gum tissues. This revolutionary system ensures that your gums get the medication they need to fight against infection. 

The process is easy: Simply place a thin layer of medicated gel onto the trays and snap them in place. You only need to wear Perio Trays for a few minutes a day to get results. 

The best part? The Perio Protect system fights off infection while simultaneously whitening your teeth and freshening your breath. We often use Perio Protect as a stand-alone treatment, but we can also use it in combination with our other periodontal treatments, which include:

  • Scaling
  • Root planing
  • Gum reshaping
  • Laser treatments
  • Regenerative treatments

Worried about your gum health? Don’t wait another day hoping the redness, bleeding, and swelling will go away on their own. Call our friendly staff at 515-292-7262 or use our online booking tool to schedule an appointment.