Periodontal disease, also known as periodontitis and gum disease, is the chronic inflammation of the gum tissue caused by the presence of harmful bacteria. Periodontal infection is a serious condition that can lead to gum disease and bone loss and can heighten the chances of developing other serious illnesses.

Research studies show that periodontal disease is inextricably linked to the worsening or development of other chronic conditions including heart disease, respiratory disease, diabetes, and pregnancy complications. Because of this, preventing and treating periodontal disease is essential for maintaining good overall health.

Heart Disease

An article published by the American Academy of Periodontology suggests that periodontal bacteria reactions in the body lead to an increased risk of developing serious heart disease. One reason for this may be that inflammation in the gums caused by periodontal disease creates significant plaque build-up which then causes arteries to swell and pre-existing heart conditions to worsen.

Another theory about the link between periodontal disease and heart disease is that the oral bacteria strains present in periodontal infection attach themselves to the coronary arteries when they enter the bloodstream and contribute to blood clot formation and the narrowing of coronary arteries. This can lead to heart issues including heart attacks.

Respiratory Disease

Bacteria in the oral cavity can be carried into the lower respiratory tract during normal inhalation. In this case, bacteria can colonize and cause infection in the lungs, leading to or worsening pneumonia, emphysema, and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). The repeated infections that characterize COPD are thought to be linked to periodontal disease.

Those suffering from persistent or chronic respiratory issues generally have a weakened immune system, making it harder for the body to fight infection and rid the gum line of harmful bacteria.


One side effect of diabetes is that blood vessels are thickened, making it harder for the mouth to rid itself of excess sugar. Excess sugar in the oral cavity causes bacteria colonization, tooth and gum decay, and periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is also known to increase blood sugar levels. This alone creates serious diabetic complications. Those with pre-existing diabetic conditions will struggle to control the amount of glucose in their blood, meaning diabetics are more susceptible to periodontal disease.

Pregnancy Complications

Periodontal disease increases levels of prostaglandin, which is known as a labor-inducing chemical. High levels of prostaglandin increase an expectant mother’s chances of delivering an underweight baby or going into premature labor. Heightened levels of C-reactive proteins, which are linked to heart disease, are also elevated by periodontal disease and can amplify an inflammatory response in the body that may lead to preeclampsia and low birth weight babies.

In general, women are more prone to periodontal disease because of major hormone fluctuations that occur during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Pregnant women with periodontal disease are at high risk of preeclampsia, underweight babies, and premature babies.

If you have questions or concerns about periodontal disease and the mouth-body connection, please contact Brooklyn Dentist. We care about your overall health and your smile!