Gum Disease and Your Heart

Gum disease is a common oral health concern that affects the soft tissues of your mouth. Many people think that the issues with gum disease stay in the mouth. However, research shows that there is a connection between gum health and heart health. In fact, gum disease can have huge implications for your health beyond the well-being of your mouth.

Gum Disease and Your Heart

How Does Gum Disease Start?

One of the most common causes of gum disease is poor oral hygiene. You must brush and floss your teeth every day to remove plaque. Plaque is a harmful, sticky bacteria that clings to the surfaces of your mouth. Without proper removal, plaque will begin to irritate the gums. This can lead to inflammation and bleeding. At this stage, your dentist would call these symptoms “gingivitis.”

Without treatment or intervention, gum disease will continue to worsen. Advanced gum disease is called periodontitis. This stage of gum disease can cause infection and tooth loss in patients. This infection can spread to other parts of your body as well. Unfortunately, gum disease is not an issue that stays local to the mouth. 

Inflammation and Heart Health

One of the ways gum disease influences the body is through inflammation. Gum disease triggers inflammation in the soft tissues of the gums and other areas. At a certain point, gum disease will become a permanent issue. This means that a patient may have chronic inflammation due to gum disease. Experts can link chronic inflammation to various systemic health issues. 

For example, inflammation due to gum disease can potentially contribute to heart problems and even heart disease. This inflammation can lead to atherosclerosis. This is a condition that causes plaque buildup in the arteries. Additionally, this condition narrows the arteries as well. This can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.  

Another issue with gum disease is bacteria. Bacteria from infected gums can enter the bloodstream. When this occurs, it can potentially affect your heart and other organs. In rare cases, this bacteria can cause infective endocarditis. This is an infection of the heart’s inner lining. 

Reducing Your Risks

One of the better ways to prevent gum disease is to have a strong oral hygiene routine. Most dentists recommend brushing twice a day and flossing daily. This is because brushing and flossing effectively remove plaque from your teeth and underneath your gum line. While brushing alone is not enough, flossing can get into hard-to-reach areas, reducing your chances of gum disease. Your dentist may even recommend an antibacterial mouthwash to help prevent gum disease. 

Another way to reduce your risk of gum disease is to attend regular dental visits. These allow your dentist to detect and manage gum disease early. As a result, you can minimize your heart-related risks. 

If you are a smoker, you increase your risk of gum disease. In fact, smoking can compound your chances of gum disease and heart disease. Another factor that can increase your risk of gum disease is diabetes. Diabetes can increase a person’s susceptibility to gum disease. This is because the two conditions are closely linked. 


3206 Old Chapel Hill Road
Suite 300
Durham, NC 27707

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