Affinity Health Plan

  • Gum Disease Can Lead to Other Problems

    October 07, 2015

    Dental equipmentGum disease is a serious infection that can lead to tooth loss and cause other health problems.  Gum disease is caused by plaque, a sticky film that forms on the teeth.  Research shows that infections in the mouth harm the rest of your body.  Other things that can hurt your gums are:

    • Smoking/Tobacco Use
    • Genetics
    • Pregnancy and Menopause in Women
    • Stress
    • Medications
    • Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth
    • Diabetes

    Researchers think that there is a link between gum disease and the following health problems:

    Heart Disease

    If you have gum disease you are almost twice as likely to have heart disease.  Bacteria in the mouth from gum disease and cavities can enter the bloodstream and attach to fat in the arteries of the heart.  This causes clots which lead to heart attack and stroke.


    People with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease because gum disease is an infection.  If you don't have your diabetes under control you are more at risk.  The link between gum disease and diabetes goes both ways.  Gum disease can increase blood sugar which puts you at risk for problems.  A recent study found that when you have your gum disease treated, your diabetes can get better.

    Respiratory Disease

    Recent studies have shown that bacteria from the mouth can move into the lower respiratory tract.  This can cause infections.  If you have a lung condition, it can make it worse. 


    For a long time we've know that smoking, drinking alcohol and using drugs can cause babies to be born too early and have a low birth weight.  Now we know that women with gum disease are also more likely to have a baby that is born too early and too small.  Regular dental check-ups during pregnancy are very important.


    People who have osteoporosis have low and decreasing bone mass.  Studies suggest that this may lead to tooth loss because the jaw bone can no longer support the teeth.  The study results showed that people with osteoporosis and gum disease in their mouths had more bone loss in the oral cavity.

    How to prevent gum disease:

    Brush your teeth properly twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.

    1. Floss your teeth once per day
    2. Use a mouth rinse.  Listerine is a good choice and has been approved by the American Dental Association.
    3. Visit your dentist two times per year, every six months for a check-up.

    DentaQuest accepts members of Affinity Health Plan, please call 1-855-208-6768 or visit our website,

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