Oral and Systemic Health: Is There a Periodontal Link?

older white man and woman smiling outdoors Continued research shows us how severe gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, may contribute to systemic diseases, disorders that affect other parts of the body, or even the entire body. Studies point to links between our oral health and serious health conditions like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, heart and respiratory diseases and some cancers. Gum disease has even been related to pregnancy issues like pre-term births and low birth weight.

Periodontists take gum disease very seriously. We know that statistics show that nearly 50% of adults aged 30 and over have some form of gum disease. Treating you for this serious bacterial infection in your mouth may therefore not just help save your teeth but help save your life. Learning about the possible links between your oral health and your body is another big incentive toward changing lifestyles and improving gum health.


If you have diabetes and gum disease, you could experience more difficulty controlling your blood sugar. It’s a vicious circle; uncontrolled diabetes can lead to more oral bacteria, the kind that causes gum disease. And uncontrolled gum disease can make it harder to control diabetes.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

It’s thought that bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and travel to the brain, affecting neurological health. It’s not totally clear whether the gum disease causes the faster decline in the dementia, or vice versa.


Osteoporosis weakens the bones, and that means jawbone health can be affected. Untreated periodontal disease may lead to loose teeth from bone loss in the jaw.

Heart Disease

Similar to the link with dementia, it is thought that oral bacteria may enter the bloodstream and then attach to fatty plaques that can contribute to clot formation, worsening other heart conditions and possibly leading to heart attack.

Respiratory Disease

It’s possible that the bacteria from periodontal disease can be aspirated into our lungs. Individuals with lung ailments like COPD could be particularly at risk of increased issues.

Addressing Gum Disease

If you notice pink or red in the sink when you brush or floss, check with your dental practitioner. You could be exhibiting one of the first signs of periodontal disease. At the Pennsylvania Center for Dental Implants and Periodontics, we can normally mitigate even the most damaging effects of periodontal disease.

We’ll evaluate your individual condition then suggest further steps, including regular, specialized cleanings with our periodontal hygienists, to stop the disease from progressing.

Call one of our offices today in Philadelphia (215-677-8686) or Ambler (215-643-4393), or contact us online to make an appointment. Your smile, and your body, will thank you!