What are the oral health and overall health consequences of periodontal disease?

Portrait of doctor and smiling patient at dental clinic
16 Aug 2018

When you’re rushing out the door so you can make it to work on time, it can be easy to justify not brushing your teeth. While forgetting to brush your teeth one morning might not have significant consequences, over time, failure to practice proper oral hygiene can result in serious problems —most typically, periodontal disease.

Also known as gum disease, this condition can have a wide range of serious consequences for both your oral health and overall health. As these health problems reveal, brushing, flossing, and following other basic dental guidelines is well worth your time and effort.

Oral Health Problems

Unsurprisingly, when most people think of gum disease, they assume it will impact their oral health—and they’re quite right. Even in the initial stages of periodontal disease (typically referred to as gingivitis), individual experience inflamed, swollen gums that often bleed easily after brushing or flossing.

During these early stages, individuals may notice pain or increased sensitivity while chewing, as well as challenges with consistent bad breath. You might not always experience pain when brushing your teeth, but you’ll likely notice bright red gums or occasional bleeding.

As the condition develops into full-fledged periodontal disease, not only does the swelling and inflammation grow worse, it also results in other complications. For many individuals, the gums will begin to recede, resulting in loose, unstable teeth that are more prone to infection or even falling out entirely.

Periodontal disease can even attack the bones and ligaments that hold your teeth in place. Some individuals also experience gum abscesses—painful collections of pus. Many of these complications can drastically alter your smile and are only treatable through invasive surgery.

Overall Health Complications

Though the oral health consequences of periodontal disease are the most visible, as this condition worsens it can also have a severe impact on the overall health of your body. Gum disease has been linked to several serious conditions, including heart disease, lung infections, stroke, and diabetes.

Though gum disease can increase your risk of developing these conditions, it can also complicate symptoms when an individual already suffers from these health problems. Gum disease is essentially an infection, which scientists believe can raise blood sugar levels. For those who suffer from diabetes, the additional complication of periodontal disease can make it even more difficult to manage their blood sugar.

Periodontal disease has even been linked to complications during pregnancy. When a mother develops gum disease during her pregnancy, her baby is more likely to be born with a low birth weight or to be born prematurely. These situations often result in other complications affecting the infant’s overall well-being.

It is also worth considering how the oral and physical health consequences of gum disease can affect your emotional well-being. As your smile deteriorates and you experience the symptoms of other physical health problems, it becomes quite easy to lose confidence and develop a more pessimistic perception of your life. This can have a negative impact on your self-esteem and relationships with others.

Parting Thoughts

Gum disease is extremely common in Canada —in fact, the Canadian Dental Association estimates that nearly 70 percent of Canadians will develop some form of gum disease during their lifetime.

Remembering to brush and floss your teeth and go to the dentist once every six months may not always be the most convenient —but for your long-term well-being, few things could be more important. Quitting smoking and eating a healthy, balanced diet can also offer extra protection against this condition.

Over time, those daily practices of caring for your teeth add up to provide lasting protection against a wide range of serious conditions, allowing you to live a happier and more fulfilling life.


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Montreal QC
H3G 2C1
514 861 6106