Gum Disease Risk Factors

The primary cause of gum (periodontal) disease is bacterial plaque — a sticky, colorless film that constantly attaches to tooth surfaces. The interplay between bacteria and a person’s immune response to it results in the destruction of the gum and boney attachments to the teeth. That being said, there are other things that can make the problem worse.

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Heart Disease / Stroke

Heart Disease
Research suggest that people with gum (periodontal) disease are nearly 2X as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those who are periodontally healthy.

It is believed that bacteria from the mouth can affect the heart when they enter the blood stream, attach to fatty plaques in the coronary (heart) arteries and eventually contribute to clot formation. Researchers believe that the artertial plaques associated with gum disease increases systematic inflammation and may contribute to swelling of the arteries.

Periodontal disease can also make existing heart conditions worse. Individuals at risk for infective endocarditis may require antibiotics prior to dental procedures. Your cardiologist can help determine if your heart condition requires use of antibiotics prior to dental procedures.

Research indicates a relationship between periodontal (gum) disease and stroke. In one study, people diagnosed with a shortage of oxygen (ischemia) to the brain were more likely to have an oral infection when compared to those that were orally healthy. The control of periodontal disease is an important factor in controlling and/or preventing stroke and heart disease.


If you are diabetic, you are at greater risk to have periodontal disease (gum disease) than people without diabetes. In fact, periodontal disease is often considered a major complication of diabetes. Individuals with uncontrolled diabetes are especially at risk for periodontal loss of support.

Not only does diabetes put an individual at greater risk to develop periodontal disease, but periodontal disease can negatively influence a diabetic’s ability to control their blood sugar.

Diabetics have an increased risk of diabetic complications when they have high blood sugar. Treatment of periodontal disease has been shown to result in better diabetic c