Periodontal Disease Can Affect Your Overall Health

graphic of a health check checklist

Eating right and exercising are basic tenants of good health. After all, watching your waistline does more than just make you look trim and fit – it plays an important part in your overall physical health and self-esteem. But did you know that in addition to eating right and exercising your oral health plays a huge part in your overall health? Diseases like periodontal disease wreak havoc on your overall health and mental health and can lead to additional illnesses.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is an inflammation of the gums. It’s caused by a build-up of bacteria and can typically be attributed to poor oral hygiene, although genetics and other lifestyle factors also play a role. Over time this inflammation leads to an infection of the bones and surrounding tissue of the gums. Symptoms include red, swollen gums that bleed. The bleeding and infection cause horrible breath. As the disease advances your gums will recede and your teeth become more sensitive. At the very last stage of the disease, you will find that your teeth are loose and you’ve likely lost teeth.

What are the stages of periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease occurs in three stages.

The first stage is gingivitis. It’s characterized by red, swollen gums and bad breath. Gingivitis is treatable by improving your oral hygiene routine and getting a thorough cleaning from your dentist.

The second stage of periodontitis is early periodontitis. This stage is characterized by early bone loss and gingival pockets that are between 4-5 millimeters in depth. At this stage your gums will bleed quite a bit and your tissue starts to recede. This increases your tooth sensitivity and causes you to look like you’ve aged prematurely. Toward the end of this stage your teeth will begin to loosen. Early periodontal disease is irreversible, which means symptoms can be treated, but you will never get rid of it.

The final stage of periodontitis is advanced periodontitis. At this point you’ve lost teeth and bone, have a very foul odor in your mouth due to the widespread infection, and have severe pain.


Individuals with diabetes have been proven to more than likely have periodontal disease because of the fact that diabetes makes it more difficult for people to fight infection. In fact, a commonly associated complication of diabetes is periodontal disease. Uncontrolled diabetes puts people at an even greater risk. Periodontitis can increase your blood sugar, which ultimately increases diabetic complications.

Heart Disease

While a cause and effect link has not yet been proven, periodontal disease does increase the risk of heart disease and can cause issues to current heart conditions. Patients with heart disease often have to take antibiotics prior to procedures to avoid bacterial endocarditis. There’s also been a link between stroke and gum disease.

Other Diseases

A slew of other diseases have been linked to periodontal disease. These include osteoporosis, respiratory disease, and cancer. In fact, people with gum disease were 49% more likely to develop kidney cancer and 54% more likely to develop pancreative cancer.