Our mouths and our bodies are connected in ways we may not realize. Gum disease can often be linked to health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, pregnancy problems and respiratory disease. Diabetics, for example, are more likely to have gum disease because they are more susceptible to contracting infections. Periodontal disease can be considered a complication of diabetes and can make it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar. Studies have shown that people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from heart disease than those without. Some scientists think that oral bacteria can affect the heart when entering the blood stream, causing a potential clot to form. Plaque associated with gum disease may also contribute to the swelling of arteries. In fact, managing gum disease is an important factor in controlling and/or preventing heart disease and stroke.
Research has also shown a relationship between osteoporosis and bone loss in the jaw. Tooth loss may occur with osteoporosis because the bone density that supports the teeth may be decreased, leaving teeth without a solid foundation. Estrogen deficiency and osteopenia / osteoporosis may speed the development of oral bone loss following menopause, which may also lead to tooth loss. Pregnant women experience higher sensitivity in their gums, causing them to swell and bleed. New research is also showing us that gum disease may be a risk factor for a premature or low birth weight baby. Finally, people with gum disease may be more susceptible to lung conditions or breathing problems, such as asthma or emphysema, and have high levels of oral bacteria.