Gum Health and Its Connection to Overall Health Explained

gum health connection post from Dentists Near Me

Gum health, the health of your teeth, and overall oral health are essential to our general health and well-being at every stage of life. A healthy mouth enhances social interaction and promotes self-esteem and feelings of well-being. It also contributes to the health of the physical body. The mouth serves as a gateway or “window” to the rest of the body by providing signs and signals of health disorders. For example, mouth lesions could be the first signs of HIV, and aphthous ulcers are occasionally a manifestation of Crohn’s disease or Coeliac disease. Bleeding and pale gums can indicate blood disorders, loss of bone in the lower jaw could be an early sign of skeletal osteoporosis. Changes in the appearance of teeth can indicate anorexia or bulimia. Many compounds (e.g., opiates, alcohol, nicotine, drugs, environmental toxins, hormones, and antibodies) can be detected in the saliva. With that being said, gum health is critical to our overall health and we’ll let you know why. In our article, we’ll cover:

  1. The Common Risk Factor Approach
  2. How to Maintain Gum Health
  3. The Connection Between Diabetes and Gum Health

Oral conditions have an impact on disease and overall health. Bacteria from within the oral cavity can cause infection in other areas of the body. Infection(s) can occur due to the immune system being compromised by medical treatments or diseases. Systemic conditions and their treatment have also been known to impact oral health using an altered balance of oral microorganisms and reduced saliva flow.

Several systemic conditions have been associated with Periodontal disease. Though the biological interactions between oral conditions like periodontal disease and other conditions are still not fully understood, it is clear that chronic diseases – chiefly heart disease and cancer – share common risk factors. Recognition that general health and oral health are connected is essential for determining the appropriate oral health care strategies. To say that the body and mouth are integral to each other significantly underscores the importance of adopting a collaborative “Common Risk Factor Approach” to promote oral health.

The “Common Risk Factor Approach”

Traditionally, optimal oral health promotion has focused on the care of the gums and teeth, in isolation from other health care programs.

The Common Risk Factor Approach (CRFA) to health promotion, however, encompasses a broader perspective and targets risk factors that are common to many chronic conditions and their underlying social determinants. The key concept of adopting this approach is that actions against common health risks and their underlying social determinants aim to achieve improvements in a range of chronic health conditions more efficiently and effectively versus isolated, disease-specific approaches. Adoption of a common risk factor approach is more resource-efficient than a targeted disease-specific approach because:

  • Most chronic diseases have multiple risk factors.
  • One risk factor can have an impact on several diseases.
  • Some risk factors cluster in groups of people.
  • Risk factors can interact – in some instances, synergistically – with each other.

The common risk factor approach provides a rationale for developing multi-sectoral healthy alliances between the general public, health professionals, and statutory, voluntary, and commercial bodies. It also recognizes that incorporating lasting changes in individual “lifestyle” behaviors does require support.

Common Risk Factors for Oral Health: Maintaining Gum Health

Oral disease is one of the most widespread chronic diseases; even though it is incredibly preventable. Common risk factors that oral disease tends to share with other chronic conditions/diseases are:

  • Diet

–  Risk factors for coronary heart disease, oral cancer, and other types of cancer, stroke, diabetes, respiratory diseases, and periodontal disease.

  • Tobacco smoking/chewing

– Risk factor for oral and other cancers, periodontal disease, coronary heart disease, stroke, respiratory diseases, diabetes.

  • Alcohol consumption

– Risk factor for various forms of cancer, liver cirrhosis, cardiovascular disease, and trauma.

  • Hygiene

– Risk factor for inflammatory and bacterial conditions as well as periodontal disease.

  • Injuries

– Risk factor for trauma, including dental trauma.

  • Control & Stress

– Risk factors for cardiovascular disease and periodontal disease.

  • Socio-economic status

– Independent risk factors, as well as an underlying determinant of other risk factors.

Diet is a risk factor for many things such as stroke, coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancers, and dental caries.

The foods and drinks we consume to aid in nourishment, and our eating habits in general, have a vital influence on our overall health. A proper, well-balanced diet will provide the body with the appropriate quality and quantity of nutrients required to sustain health. However, deficiency diseases, such as osteoporosis and anemia, result from inadequate intake of essential specific nutrients, also called undernutrition.

On the other hand, overeating or excessive consumption of nutrients, overnutrition leads to obesity. Obesity is a recognized significant health risk factor and is a severe problem in Ireland.  In 2007, 25% of adults (24% of men; 26% of women) were obese. In 2002, 28% of girls and 23% of boys were either overweight or obese. Being obese or overweight increases the risk of stroke, Type II diabetes, and coronary heart disease.

In Ireland, dietary guidelines are based on the Food Pyramid published by the Health Promotion Unit (www.healthpromotion.ie ) of the Department of Health. The Food Pyramid, in short, is designed to help people to eat a balanced diet by combining several different kinds of food in the correct amounts. The top of the pyramid, often called the top shelf, represents foods that are high in salt, sugar, and fat and are not necessary for health. These foods should be used sparingly (maximum one daily serving).

Foods at the bottom of the pyramid, also called the bottom shelf, represent foods that are high in carbohydrates like bread, potatoes, and cereals and should make up the bulk of our diet, eating 6+ daily servings. A survey of dietary habits done within the Irish population (SLÁN 2007), found that only 14% of all adults surveyed (16 % of women; 13% of men) complied with the “top shelf” recommendation, which was to use foods in this area of the pyramid sparingly.

Of particular relevance to oral health, the Food Pyramid’s top shelf is as high consumption of foods/drinks containing added sugars is a direct cause of dental caries. The oral health message to restrict the consumption of foods/drinks containing added sugars to mealtimes complements the healthy heart message to reduce foods high in oils and fats.

Studies also show that eating more fruits and vegetables can have a protective influence against cancers and systemic inflammatory (including periodontal) diseases.

Learn more about the
The Connection Between Diabetes and Gum Health (Gum Disease)


CAQs about Periodontal Disease, Periodontal Disease Treatment, and Periodontal Surgery


What are the common signs and symptoms of Periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is a silent disease that rarely presents symptoms until it is in its late stages. Sometimes, however, you can experience signs and symptoms before it has progressed to an advanced stage. In some cases, gums can be tender or bleed during flossing and brushing; gums can also appear swollen or red. On occasion, some might experience bad breath, or they may experience gum tissue recession.

What is the difference between calculus and plaque?

Plaque is a colorless film that continually forms on our teeth. Plaque is what we can remove from our teeth at home by brushing and flossing. However, if plaque is allowed to sit on the teeth over time, it calcifies and will harden turning into calculus. Calculus is commonly known as tartar and calculus, unlike plaque, cannot be removed at home. Instead, calculus must be removed by a dental professional during a cleaning. The best way to keep plaque from hardening and turning into calculus is to practice good home care. An excellent home care routine includes brushing twice a day, daily flossing, and rinsing with a mouth rinse. 

How are gum disease and cardiovascular disease connected?

Research has demonstrated that having periodontal disease could increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Both cardiovascular disease and periodontal disease are inflammatory diseases of a chronic nature. So, researchers believe that inflammation might be a connection between the two. Periodontal disease that is left untreated can increase inflammation in the body, increasing the risk of more severe health complications. This could include but is not limited to cardiovascular disease.

Is it possible for children to be at risk for developing periodontal disease?

Generally speaking, Periodontal disease is uncommon in children. But, Periodontal disease can be found in teenagers and adolescents. Even though this condition is rare among children, it is still critical for children to learn about and understand the importance of caring for their teeth and gums. Having the proper knowledge can help prevent periodontal disease in the future. Learning to floss correctly and brush twice daily early on will make it much easier and more likely for children to maintain these habits for a lifetime.

Both flossing and brushing will help protect the teeth and gums from periodontal disease. Parents should, however, be aware of periodontal disease and its warning signs. Bleeding, red, or swollen and persistent bad breath are some signs. If your child displays any of these symptoms, it is essential to tell your dental professional. Do share your family’s medical and dental history with your dental professional because genetics can play a critical role in developing periodontal disease early in life.

Do I have to see a periodontist for periodontal disease treatment such as periodontal surgery, or can my general dentist treat this condition?

In general, most cases of periodontal disease can be managed in a general dental practice. Initial non-surgical therapies like the placement of antimicrobials and deep cleanings can be very successful. In some cases, further treatment beyond maintenance cleanings can be required to maintain the level of bone. In short, Periodontists are gum and bone specialists who can offer further treatment in more advanced cases that require periodontal surgery.

How can I prevent periodontal disease at home?

An excellent way to prevent periodontal disease at home is to practice good oral hygiene. Flossing once a day, brushing two times per day, and using a mouth rinse, can help keep the gums and teeth healthy. It is also critical to see your dental provider twice a year for a professional cleaning and oral exam. This is important to help clean bacteria below the gum line and areas that we have a hard time reaching at home.

Is there a way to determine my chances of developing gum disease? I’ve seen gum disease pictures from both of my parents, and I’m concerned that it’s genetic?

Recent research has shown genetics might be involved in a person’s risk of gum disease. But, it is critical to note that some other factors do play a role. Other inflammatory conditions, lifestyle, and diet can all influence how the immune system responds to bacteria associated with periodontal disease.

Is there a link between diabetes and periodontal disease?

Research suggests that there is a link between diabetes and periodontal disease. People who have diabetes are indeed more likely to have problems with periodontal disease. This is likely because they are more susceptible to infection. Periodontal disease is listed among one of the top six complications from diabetes. The relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes is correlative. In the same way that diabetes can increase a person’s risk of developing periodontal disease, research shows that well-managed cases of periodontal disease have a positive impact on blood sugar levels among patients who have Type II diabetes.

Is there a link between heart disease and periodontal disease?

Multiple research studies have indicated that heart disease and gum disease could be linked. Researchers suspect that general inflammation within the body could be the reason. It is an excellent idea to mention this to your dental provider if you are at risk for heart disease or are concerned about gum disease. He or she can work together with your primary care physician to help you manage both conditions and help you find ways to stay healthy.

I was recently diagnosed with periodontal disease. How often should I see my hygienist or dentist for an examination?

It is important to regularly see your dental provider monitor your condition and avoid any further disease progression. Your provider will help you decide how often you need to be seen to maintain the bone levels and control inflammation. Usually, the frequency you need to be seen depends on how advanced your disease is and its current state. Many factors influence how often patients should be seen, such as genetics, smoking, and other inflammatory medical conditions. Your dental providers will work with you to help prevent your condition from progressing. Some patients may need to be seen two to three times per year, and others may need to be seen four times a year.

Is periodontal disease contagious? I fear that a decline in my gum health might spread to others.

The cause of Periodontal disease is the body’s response to specific strains of bacteria found within the mouth. Technically, it is not a contagious disease because periodontal disease depends specifically upon how an individual responds to the bacteria. However, it is critical to note that these bacteria are transmissible through saliva. So, it is good to avoid sharing eating utensils or oral hygiene items like toothbrushes with people who have this condition to avoid introducing these specific bacteria into your body.

I have prominent gums and short teeth, so you can only see my gums when I smile. I don’t smile very often anymore because I am so self-conscious about my gums. Is there a way I can improve my smile?

There are some different options to address this concern. One procedure, known as a gingivectomy, is when your dentist removes excess gum tissue and reshape the gums’ contour in addition to exposing more tooth structure. Veneers or crowns can also create more symmetry and length to the teeth.

What is periodontal maintenance cleaning?

Periodontal maintenance cleanings are generally done every 3-4 months to help control the bacteria responsible for creating inflammation within the gum tissue. By disrupting bacteria at regular intervals, we can also reduce the body’s need and desire to create inflammation. During periodontal maintenance cleanings, your hygienist can access the tooth and gum spaces where the bacteria are more destructive and concentrated. Because your hygienist can thoroughly debride these areas, it will help keep your disease state inactive. Insurance typically covers periodontal treatments differently than preventive cleanings. So, patients often have small copays for this procedure. With the help of a patient following strict home care and attending periodontal maintenance cleaning appointments, it is our goal to keep periodontal disease inactive.

How do I treat my periodontal disease?

The initial phase of treatment involves a non-surgical method called scaling and root planing. This is essentially a deep cleaning in which the hygienist anesthetizes the area and thoroughly removes tartar and bacteria formed below the gum line. After the first phase of treatment, recommendations will be to return every 3-4 months for maintenance cleanings to keep the bacteria under control. Depending upon the severity of bone loss, however, further treatments may be prescribed.

After I have completed my deep cleaning, am I free of periodontal disease?

Once diagnosed with periodontal disease, this diagnosis will stay with you for your dentition lifetime. By managing the condition with regular maintenance cleanings, excellent home care habits, and lifestyle changes, it is possible to keep the inflammation under control and keep the disease state inactive.

What other lifestyle changes can I make to improve my oral health?

The inflammation caused by periodontal disease can affect overall health, so making some changes to your lifestyle can improve your gum health and the health of your entire body. Here are some tips to help reduce inflammation within the body and the gums:

  • Avoid eating processed foods, foods with added sugars, pop, or energy drinks.
  • Avoid smoking, vaping, or chewing tobacco.
  • Eat a diet rich in Omega 3’s, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, and take probiotics and multivitamins.
  • Exercise regularly and practice deep relaxation techniques like Yoga or meditation.
  • Sleep at least 7-8 hours each night.  

Does Periodontal Disease have anything to do with my Diabetes being unstable?

There is a strong link between diabetes, heart disease, and many other inflammatory conditions. This is because the burden of a chronic inflammatory condition like Periodontal disease weakens our immune system’s ability to fight off other infections or correct any malfunctions within our organ systems. 

My dentist and hygienist told me I could not have a regular cleaning and I have to do a deep cleaning, why?

This is likely because your dental providers have found active inflammation in the gum tissue and changes in your bone levels on your x-rays. Thus, indicating a chronic inflammatory condition called Periodontitis. If Periodontitis goes untreated, patients can lose a significant amount of bone around their teeth, leading to tooth loss. It is critical, however, to pursue periodontitis treatment before patients do lose too much bone. Managing the various types of gum disease will also help improve your overall health and well-being because there is a connection to numerous systemic conditions.

Periodontal disease treatment cost without insurance (deep cleaning cost without insurance)

Periodontal treatments vary in cost depending on the severity of the case and the prescribed additional treatments. Deep cleaning costs without dental insurance in Lincoln, NE, are between $600- $1000.

Periodontal scaling and root planing cost with insurance 

The cost of scaling and root planing depends on the individual insurance plan and the severity and extent of the areas involved in the patient’s case. Each insurance plan offers different percentages of coverage for periodontal therapy. Most dental insurances cover about 80% of the cost for periodontal cleanings, leaving a copay of approximately $150-$300.

Can I reverse gum disease? Can you cure periodontal disease? 

Gingivitis is a condition in which gums are swollen, red, and inflamed due to an accumulation of plaque near the gum line. Hormones or medications can also cause gingivitis. Typically gingivitis has no association with bone loss around the teeth. After plaque is removed, gingivitis treatment will usually be successful, and the condition is considered reversible. However, Periodontitis results from the body’s response to specific bacteria causing chronic inflammation and bone loss around the teeth. Once patients have lost bone around the teeth, there is no way to grow it back. Treating Periodontitis includes deep cleanings and regular continuing care visits to control the bacteria and avoid further bone loss. Periodontitis is not reversible but is manageable if treated appropriately.

How do I get rid of gum disease?

It is crucial to have a thorough exam of your gums and teeth by your dental provider to determine which treatments would be appropriate in your case. Your dental provider can recommend ways to treat your condition, and they can also help you assess your lifestyle and other risk factors that can influence the outcome of treatment.

What is a pocket in your gums with periodontal (gum) disease?

Periodontal pockets occur due to the widening of the tooth and gums’ space due to a chronic inflammatory condition called Periodontitis. The cause of Periodontitis is an overgrowth of specific bacteria that lead to bone loss around the teeth.

How to get rid of pockets in your gums naturally? 

Unfortunately, there is no way to get rid of periodontal pockets by merely applying a topical treatment or taking vitamins. However, adopting specific lifestyle changes in conjunction with Periodontal treatment can positively influence the outcome of treatment. Taking Omega 3, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, and eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can boost your immune system.

Can you have periodontal disease without symptoms? 

Most cases of early to moderate periodontal disease do not show overt symptoms. Patients typically do not notice any symptoms aside from bleeding gums or bad breath. Unfortunately, it is a silent disease that can progress without our knowledge. Many patients in the advanced stages only notice slight aching or tooth mobility. At the point of tooth mobility, periodontal treatments may not be adequate to save teeth. It is imperative to see your dentist regularly to receive screenings for this condition.

Is there pain with periodontal (gum) disease?  What are gum disease symptoms?

Usually, mild to moderate cases do not exhibit gum disease symptoms aside from slight bleeding when brushing or bad breath. In more advanced cases, patients may notice aching, cold sensitivity, or tooth mobility. This condition can go unnoticed for many years without causing discomfort. Ultimately, once patients seek care, there is advanced bone loss and a poor prognosis for teeth.

What causes bone loss around teeth?

Bone loss usually occurs around teeth due to Periodontitis. Periodontitis is a condition resulting from the overgrowth of bacteria that create an inflammatory response in the gums. Over time, this low-grade chronic infection produces inflammatory chemicals that lead to bone destruction. Other reasons for bone loss around teeth can be the upper and lower jaw relationship causing trauma to a tooth over time. Infections from abscessed teeth can also cause bone loss.

What does gum disease lead to?

Gum health, in particular gum disease, is a chronic inflammatory condition resulting from bacterial overgrowth and the body’s attempt to fight this infection. When there is a chronic inflammatory condition in the body, it can lead to many medical problems. It can contribute to the progression of diabetes, heart disease, respiratory conditions, and many autoimmune conditions.

How do you get periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease can be acquired by an imbalance of the good and bad bacteria within the oral cavity. When harmful bacteria gain the opportunity to reproduce in the mouth, the immune system responds by creating an inflammatory response. If this response becomes chronic or ongoing, the result is bone loss around the teeth. These bacteria can be mutations of naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth, or they can be transmitted from one person to another via saliva. Patients who suffer from other inflammatory conditions are at higher risk of developing periodontal disease due to their immune system’s exaggerated response to bacteria or viruses.

Coconut oil for gum health and periodontal disease treatment? Does coconut oil work for one of the various types of gum disease treatment?

Some research supports the notion that coconut oil may have anti-fungal or antibacterial properties. So, using this product may have positive effects in conjunction with traditional periodontal therapy. Also, it is crucial to adopt other good habits that support the immune system. However, coconut oil should not be used to cure or treat periodontal disease.


The information on this page was written by Dr. Christine Bergman.

This gentle Lincoln, NE dentists, says: “My team and I will go out of our way to ensure you feel at home. We take the time to understand all of your concerns because we genuinely care. Let us help improve your health with the most advanced dental techniques in a soothing, relaxing environment. We are the gentle dentists in Lincoln, NE.”

You can schedule with this Lincoln, NE dentist, or her partners, online 24/7 at a Nebraska Family Dentistry Location near you. This “dentist near me” serves the local communities close to Lincoln. Some of the communities include Waverly, Davey, Raymond, Garland, Ceresco, Greenwood, and Malcolm, Roca, Bennet, Firth, Crete, Hickman, and many more!

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