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Gum Disease Damages More Than Your Smile

gum disease damages more than your smile

It’s not just your heart and liver that are vulnerable to disease; the gums inside of your mouth are at risk of disease as well. Without thorough and attentive dental care, your gums could fall victim to the harmful bacteria lurking in between your teeth.

Unfortunately, the damage caused by gum disease doesn’t stop inside of your mouth. In addition to tooth decay, gum erosion, and pain, gum disease also threatens your heart and lungs.

What is Gum Disease?

Bacteria are teeming inside of your mouth, even if you can’t see or feel them. This microbiome controls the overall health of your oral tissues. When “bad” bacteria have the chance to overtake the “good” bacteria that cultivate strong oral health, gum disease develops.

There are many different reasons that the dangerous bacteria in your mouth might gain too much power: smoking, poor brushing, and a high-sugar diet are just a few common causes. Eventually, bacteria, sugars, and acids blend to create plaque and tartar that brushing alone can’t remove.

The effects of plaque and tartar begin subtly. You may not even notice the tiny amount of blood in your toothpaste when you spit or the slight pain when you chew. However, these side effects quickly develop into the two stages of gum disease known as gingivitis and periodontitis.


Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease. It’s your mouth’s warning sign that you must make changes to protect your teeth and gums from serious damage in the future. Even though gingivitis doesn’t cause overt discomfort, it does present symptoms like red and swollen gums that bleed easily.

As the first stage in the progression of gum disease, gingivitis is very common. The CDC estimates that nearly 50% of all American adults have some form of gum disease. That’s 65 million people! However, just because it’s common doesn’t mean gingivitis is acceptable. If you fail to improve your brushing, flossing, and dental care habits to reverse gingivitis, it will develop into the more aggressive phase of gum disease known as periodontitis.


Periodontitis isn’t nearly as reversible and easy to treat at gingivitis. It’s definitely not a problem to ignore or shrug off. The plaque that only caused inflamed gums during the gingivitis stage will start to grow below the gum line and produce toxins that stimulate a chronic inflammatory response within your body. This chronic inflammatory response essentially tells the body to attack itself and breakdown the tissues and bones that support the structure of your mouth.

As a result, untreated periodontitis causes the gums to separate from the teeth and form pockets that quickly become dangerously infected. Gum tissue and bone breakdown further as the teeth surrender to rapid decay. Over time, you teeth become loose and fall out.

Signs You Have Gum Disease

Admitting that you have gum disease may be scary, but ignoring the signs and suffering the future complications is bound to be even scarier. Pay close attention to the following symptoms so that you can seek treatment for gum disease immediately:

  • Bad breath that doesn’t fade even after brushing or drinking water
  • Red, tender, bleeding gums
  • Pain when chewing food
  • Loose or wiggling teeth
  • Increased tooth sensitivity
  • Receding gums and the appearance of longer teeth
  • Unexpected tooth loss
  • Multiple cavities and infections

If you believe you have the early or later stages of gum disease, visiting your dentist should be your first priority. The dangers of gum disease don’t stop in your mouth. Unfortunately, this condition has serious implications on the rest of your body as well.

The Links Between Gum Disease and Heart Disease

Researchers have been studying the link between gum disease and cardiovascular disease for decades. Statistics indicate that people with gum disease are two to three times more likely to have a heart attack, stroke, or other serious cardiovascular problem, so what’s the connection? Inflammation and bacteria.

The chronic inflammation triggered by gum disease isn’t isolated to your mouth. It triggers reactions throughout your body and may exacerbate existing cardiovascular risk factors. The toxic bacteria lurking in your mouth as a result of gum disease may also travel through your gut and into your bloodstream, ultimately spreading harmful strains of bacteria to the heart.

In fact, some research suggestions that gum disease increases your risk of heart disease by as much as 20 percent.

Other Dangerous Complications of Gum Disease

Gum disease is also linked to health conditions like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and respiratory disease. Although there’s not a direct cause-and-effect link, studies show that gum disease creates conditions in the body that increase the likelihood of RA and respiratory disease, often as a result of dangerous bacteria moving through the bloodstream.

For example, certain strains of bacteria develop in the mouth as a result of gum disease, are swallowed with your saliva, and move into the lungs. Once in the lungs, these strains nurture infections that can cause pneumonia and other serious complications.

How to Seek Treatment For Gum Disease

Fortunately, gum disease can be controlled or even reversed if it’s caught early. It’s very important to work with your dentist to address gingivitis and periodontitis; only your dentist has the tools and expertise needed to fully combat the plaque, tartar, and bacteria that combined to form gum disease in your mouth.

If your gum disease is still in the earlier stages of gingivitis, you can reverse the damage and reclaim a healthy mouth by taking simple steps toward better oral care:

  • Brush and floss at least twice a day
  • Use a natural mouthwash
  • Visit your dentist every six months for a comprehensive cleaning and exam
  • Stop smoking or using chewing tobacco
  • Improve your diet to choose healthy whole foods over high-sugar and processed foods
  • Try oil pulling to remove toxins and harmful bacteria from your mouth

Once your gum disease progresses into periodontitis, simple at-home measures and basic dentist appointments aren’t enough to stop the damage. You’ll need to visit your dentist for scaling and root planing.

Scaling and root planing achieve a deep and thorough cleaning below the gumline. Local anesthesia is used to minimize discomfort while your dentist scrapes and removes plaque, toxins, and tartar from your teeth and root surfaces. At the end of the treatment, your dentist smoothes the rough area on your roots’ surfaces to stop bacteria and tartar from accumulating under the gumline. This gives your gums the opportunity to heal and reform.

Root scaling and planing are considered the “gold standard” of treatment for chronic periodontitis. Although they can’t reverse gum disease entirely, they can control existing damage and stop excessive decay and gum erosion in the future.

At North Brand Dental in Glendale and Moorpark, CA, Dr. Acopian and Dr. Ghadimi offer all of the personalized services you need to prevent, treat, and control gingivitis, periodontitis, and other oral diseases. Call (818) 244-7215 today to schedule an appointment for the exceptional care you deserve.

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Glendale Office
620 E. Glenoaks Blvd.,
Suite B Glendale, CA 91207
Phone : +1-818-244-7215
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484 E. Los Angeles Ave #210
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Opening hours
Mon – Thur: 8am – 6pm
Fri: 8am – 4pm
Sat: By Appointment Only