Evidence is mounting that gum disease plays a role in a range of serious health problems around the body.

People with gum disease have a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. There is also a known link with premature birth, lung and kidney disease.

Gum disease is also associated with an ­increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, improved oral ­hygiene appears to improve diabetes control.

How can gum health cause illness?

The problem begins with the bacteria living in the plaque on the surface of the teeth. Bacteria cause gum inflammation (gingivitis) seen as gum tenderness and bleeding when you brush.

The body’s immune system responds by releasing white cells and inflammatory chemicals which damage the gums further and destroy the soft tissue and bone that anchor the teeth (periodontitis) so that teeth can fall out.

The chemicals and bacteria escape into the bloodstream and are carried to other parts of the body where they cause inflammation and damage to a range of vital organs.

Looking after your gums

The best way to protect your gums is regular brushing, flossing and visits to the dentist.

Electric or power toothbrushes are becoming increasingly popular. A recent scientific review found that power brushes with a ‘rotation oscillation’ action (the head rotates in one direction and then the other) are more effective in reducing plaque and gingivitis than manual brushing and do not cause gum damage.

Cleaning your teeth prevents dental decay and improves your breath. It could also save your life!

American Academy of Periodontology


  • Please note this information was correct at time of publication.
  • For up to date information, speak to your doctor.
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