Can gum disease make you sick?

Gum disease is not only bad for your mouth, but it is also associated with serious diseases affecting other parts of your body, some of which can even kill you.

According to the Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, there is plenty of scientific evidence suggesting that gum disease increase one’s susceptibility to a variety of other health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Can gum disease make you sick?

Can gum disease kill you?

Gum disease can not only make you sick, but also kill you in the worst case scenario. Like other sections of the body, your mouth is swarming with bacteria, most of which are harmless. But there are also some harmful bacteria that can cause severe gum disease and other health conditions that could kill you if left untreated.

Basically, a combination of your body’s natural defenses and proper dental care practices, such as daily brushing and flossing, is sufficient to keep those bacteria under control. But without proper oral hygiene, the bacteria can reach dangerous levels that may lead to oral infections such as gum disease and tooth decay, as well as other fatal health problems.

If gum disease is left untreated and the infection continues to spread beyond the mouth and affects other body organs, you may begin to suffer from severe symptoms of gum disease such as trouble breathing, pressure behind the eye, and even heart diseases. 

Some people may even develop large ulcers that destroy gum tissue while leaving permanent holes in the gums and causing teeth to fall off. This condition is known as acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG). And if it advances to gangrene, then other oral soft tissues, including cheeks, lips, and gums may begin to die, necessitating removal.

Early gum disease symptoms

Gum complications rarely cause pain during the initial stages, so it is essential that you check your teeth and gums while flossing to detect early signs of trouble, such as:

  1. Red and Inflamed Gums

One of the first signs of gum disease is soft and swollen gums. This condition is usually painless, which causes people to ignore it as a symptom of gum disease. But healthy gums are firm and do not pull away from the teeth. If left untreated, however, gum inflammation can result in more severe complications.

  1. Bleeding Gums

If brushing and flossing ends with your gums bleeding, then this should alert you that there is something wrong with your teeth. Many people ignore the bleeding as a sign of aggressive brushing, but this could actually be an indication that your gums are not healthy. To avoid any confusion, try applying minimal pressure when brushing to see if there will still be signs of blood on the bristles.

  1. Receding Gums

Gum recession is usually characterised by longer teeth due to exposure of more of the tooth. So, if you notice that you can see more of your tooth than normal, this could be a sign of advanced gingivitis, or periodontitis.

Gum disease symptoms and treatment

While the early stages of gum disease or gingivitis are reversible, periodontitis (advanced gum disease) is not reversible. This is because it usually involves damage to the underlying tooth support structure, which appears as recession. Other signs of periodontitis include bad breath, gum abscesses, and an unpleasant taste in your mouth. If no measures are taken to address the disease and stop the gum recession, it can lead to tooth loss.

Caring for your Gums

While gum problems are mainly caused by the buildup of bacteria, associated with poor dental care & oral hygiene, between your teeth and around the gums, there are certain factors that can make you more prone to gum disease, like pregnancy, chronic illness, and a weak immune system. That is why it’s important to visit your dentist every six months to assess the changing needs of your mouth and initiate the necessary interventions at the earliest stage possible.

Keep in mind that proper dental care and oral hygiene at home, which entails using an electric toothbrush to apply adequate pressure, brushing your teeth properly, and taking good care of your gums, is sufficient to prevent and treat gum disease, boost your overall health, and reduce the risk of other health problems.

Besides brushing your teeth twice a day, for two minutes per session, using an electric toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, you should also visit your dental hygienist regularly for cleaning and check-ups.  

Authors

  • Editorial team

    A team comprising oral health care professionals, researchers, and professional Writers, striving to impart you with the knowledge to improve your oral health, and that of your loved ones. 

  • Lilly

    Lilly, aka, Liza Lee, is a passionate community oral health officer and our lead writer. She's not only well-versed in performing a multitude of dental procedures, including preventive, restorative, and cosmetic, but also an avid writer. Driven by the significant oral health burden all around her, Lilly strives to build capacity and promote oral health. She envisions making a lasting impact by advancing research, prevention, and promotion efforts to alleviate oral health disparities. Please share your views and opinions on my posts.

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