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Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an inflammation of the gum tissue that is caused by the excess buildup of bacteria, plaque and tartar. If left untreated, this can lead to a low-grade infection in the gum tissue. The infection itself can cause a loss of material in the bones that anchor your teeth into your jaw. Over time the infection can also lead to systemic inflammation that can tax your immune system.

New research has also found that advanced gum disease or periodontitis can have a serious impact on other medical conditions, like heart disease and diabetes. Diabetes tends to make it harder for the body to fight infection. This makes it easier for bacteria to spread through the affected area in the gums. Research conducted by found that people with diabetes or people who are struggling to maintain control of their blood sugar are more likely to develop periodontal disease.

Unfortunately, the relationship between gum disease, heart disease and strokes is not as well understood. Several studies conducted by the American Heart Association have found that people with heart disease have a higher instance of gum disease. It’s important to note that this speculation might be related to other lifestyle choices, such as tobacco use, that also has a negative impact on oral health.

Other studies conducted by the American Cancer Society have found that middle-aged males with gum disease were more likely to develop kidney and pancreatic cancer as well as certain types of blood cancers.

Research continues to explore the relationship between gum disease, systemic inflammation and overall health. The easiest way to reduce your chances of developing gum disease is with an effective oral hygiene regimen based on brushing and flossing twice a day as well as visiting your dentist at Riverdale Dental P.C. for your regular dental checkup.