How Unhealthy Gums Can Affect Your Body

How Unhealthy Gums Can Affect Your Body

Bleeding gums are often the first sign of gum disease. Many people do not realize that gum disease can lead to serious health issues if left untreated. Here are some ways unhealthy gums can affect your body.

Heart Attacks / Strokes

There is increasing evidence that gum disease can lead to a heart attack or stroke. A 2017 study by Bradley Bale, Amy Doneen, and David Vigerust has found this connection to be valid. The bacterium Fusobacterium nucleatum (Fn) has been found as a promoter of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the buildup of plaque in the artery walls that could lead to a major heart attack or stroke. A heavy bacterial load in your gums that includes the Fn bacteria could put you at risk for an heart attack.

Pregnancy Complications

A 2017 study by the University of Helsinki in Finland has found a connection between gum disease and pregnancy related complications. The Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg) bacteria is found more frequently in women before their pregnancies. The same study also found that women who have the Pg bacterium may have a harder time conceiving if they want to have a newborn child. Additional research has found that women that are able to conceive and have gum disease have increased risk for pregnancy complications which include low birth weight and premature births.

Sleep Apnea

Research has shown that 60 percent of patients who have periodontitis, the most serious form of gum disease, are also diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. Patients who have sleep apnea are also at risk for increased inflammation that could lead to a more serious medical event such as a heart attack or stroke.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

For older Americans, maintaining good oral health is more important than ever. A 2017 study by The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) School of Medicine and Dentistry in England found that dementia patients who have gum disease can put themselves at risk for other health complications. This is because patients who have gum disease have receding gum lines. Additional bacteria can be carried through the receding gum lines from activities such as chewing and tooth brushing. This means that the bacterium can be carried through the blood stream to other parts of the body.


Various forms of cancers are tied to gum disease. When you account for body mass along with other risk factors such as diabetes and smoking, patients with gum disease may have a:

  • 36% increased risk for lung cancer
  • 49% increased risk for kidney cancer
  • 54% increased risk for pancreatic cancer
  • 30% increased risk in hematologic cancers such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia, and multiple myeloma

Take Care of Your Gums!

There are more risk factors health wise that can lead to gum disease. These five common issues should be enough motivation for yourself and family to take care of your oral health.