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How Gum Disease Impacts Your Health

gum disease impacts health
Published By Dr. Rachel Hall at 3 November, 2023

Did you know that gum disease impacts your health?

Yes, it’s true if you want to take good care of your health you need to take care of your teeth and gums as well.

We have a saying here at Evolve Holistic Dentist and that is ‘healthy smile, healthy life’ and that is because if your gums aren’t healthy then you aren’t healthy.

Improve Your Health By Addressing Gum Disease

When people think about improving their health, things like getting more exercise, eating more vegetables and getting more sleep often come to mind.

Taking better care of your gums and teeth probably doesn’t make the list, but it should.

Research as well as dental and medical professionals agree that gum health is important not just for your mouth, but for your whole body.

But why is that? How does gum disease impact your health?

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is a progressive disorder of the mouth and gums that develops over time in stages if not diagnosed and treated correctly.

That treatment involves a partnership between you as the patient and us as your holistic dental team as well as ongoing home care and oral hygiene on your part.

Gingivitis – Gum Disease

The first and earliest stage of gum disease is called gingivitis.

It is very common and most people will have it at some point in their life.

Gingivitis is characterised by symptoms such as gum soreness, bleeding with brushing, mild pain and redness and swelling,.

Gingivitis can usually be reversed with treatment.

But if untreated, symptoms will worsen and progress to a more severe form of the disease called periodontitis.


Periodontitis is an advanced form of gum disease that can’t be reversed – the damage to the bone and gum tissue is permanent.

Its progression, however, can be stopped with professional care.

Signs and symptoms of periodontitis, include:

  • Receding gums
  • Changes in bite (the way your teeth fit together when you bite or chew)
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth and/or tooth loss
  • Red, swollen and bleeding gums
  • Painful chewing

The Connection between Gum Health and Whole-Body Health

How Gum Disease Impacts Health

The common denominator for both gingivitis and periodontitis is the onset of inflammation in the gums. Unchecked, inflammation breaks down the gums and can lead to the destruction of the jaw bone, ultimately resulting in tooth loss.

But this inflammation is not localised to your gums because when inflammation exists anywhere in the body, it puts the immune system on high alert.

It reacts by activating infection-fighting cells (white blood cells) that tell the rest of the body that something is wrong.

These cells circulate through the bloodstream to every part of the body.

The strong immune response that occurs due to inflammation in the gums (or anywhere in the body) has far-reaching implications, increasing the risk for many health conditions.

Added to the inflammation is the factor of mouth bacteria also gaining entry to the bloodstream and travelling to and infecting other parts of the body.

Health Issues Linked to Gum Disease

  • Heart Disease. Inflammation related to gum disease has been linked to an increased risk for heart disease and high blood pressure. The cardiovascular system reacts very negatively to inflammation by increasing the amount of cholesterol and fats in the bloodstream which can build up on the artery walls to form plaques. This can lead to atherosclerosis – a condition in which the blood vessels become narrower and less pliable – potentially blocking blood flow.
  • Diabetes. When blood sugar levels are not well controlled it can lead to higher glucose levels in the saliva, which promotes the growth of the bacteria that cause gum disease. In addition, infections from untreated periodontal disease can also cause a rise in blood sugars, making it more difficult to control diabetes.
  • Respiratory Infections. Research shows that inflammation in the mouth and gums associated with severe periodontitis may lead to more aggressive respiratory infections and increase the risk of complications.
  • Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD). Although there is only preliminary data available to support this connection, some experts believe that inflammation in the oral cavity can contribute to a worsening of IBD and other gastrointestinal disorders.
  • Mental Health. Healthy teeth and gums also play a role in how we feel. People with advanced gum disease and/or tooth loss tend to smile less and may feel self-conscious or ashamed. As a result, they may avoid social situations which can lead to increased isolation – a major factor in mental decline, depression and anxiety.

Gum disease is also linked to Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, erectile dysfunction, cancers, pre-term birth, infertility and rheumatoid arthritis.

What Causes Periodontal Disease?

The main factor in gum disease is poor brushing and flossing habits, and diet/nutrition also play a role.

After we eat bacteria in our mouth feed on the sugars in the food and form a sticky layer (plaque) on the teeth. When the teeth are not properly cleaned, plaque builds up, hardens and causes gum inflammation.

Brushing and flossing at home is not usually enough to remove all plaque from the gum line – that is why dentists recommend that everyone have a professional cleaning at least every six months if not more frequently.

Additional factors that increase your risk for gum disease include:

  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use
  • Some prescription medications
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Inadequate mouth moisture (dry mouth)
  • Genetics predispotion
  • Poor health

Prevention of Gum Disease

Although professional dental care can usually halt its progression, severe gum disease cannot be reversed. Therefore, it’s better to prevent the problem in the first place.

My advice is a holistic dentist is:

  • Don’t smoke. Chronic tobacco use increases the risk of gum disease and mouth cancer.
  • Limit or eliminate alcohol use. Chronic alcohol use is associated with gum disease and oral cancers.
  • Don’t use antibacterial mouthwash too often. Oral health relies on a healthy balance of bacteria in the mouth. Antibacterial rinses should only be used if recommended by your dentist.
  • Brush your teeth at least twice daily. Make sure you take your time and massage your gums with your toothbrush as well.
  • Floss your teeth at least twice daily. Clean away plaque and food from the areas your tooth brush doesn’t reach with dental floss and/or interdental brushes.
  • Consume foods low in carbohydrates and starches.
  • See your dentist regularly. Get your teeth checked and professionally cleaned at least every six months. People with gum disease especially periodontitis will need to be seen more frequently to manage and limit the impacts of irreverisble damage caused by this type of gum disease.

Holistic Dentist Brisbane

To reduce the impacts of gum disease on your health regular dental care is a must.

But hand in hand with good gum health goes overall health and a holistic dentist can support you to address underlying issues and lifestyle factors that increase your risk for gum disease.

We can also recommend ways to support your gum health beyond brushing and flossing so that once and for all we get your gum issues under control

To support your gum health and to live a healthy life call us today 07 3720 1811.

  • Dr. Rachel Hall

    Dr. Rachel Hall

    Rachel is the founder and principal dentist at Evolve Dental Healing with over 30 years experience, practising holistically since 2001. Not your typical dentist, Rachel is a passionate opinion leader, challenging convention to empower people to make better dental and health choices, helping thousands to have healthy natural smiles. A respected writer and presenter on holistic dentistry, health and wellness it is Rachel’s mission to revolutionise the way people look at their dental health.

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