Periodontal Diseases and How They Can Affect Overall Health

You’ve heard that poor oral health can lead to cavities and gingivitis, but did you know that health issues in other parts of your body can stem from gum disease caused by poor oral care? Dozens of studies show the negative effects of periodontal disease (aka gum disease) on the body and its link to an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, pregnancy complications, respiratory disease and diabetes.

We spend a lot of time here at Shaw Orthodontics letting people know about the overall health and psychological benefits of orthodontic treatment. This is a crucial topic because half of all Americans have some form of gum disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 65 million American adults have mild, moderate or severe periodontitis, the more advanced form of periodontal disease.

Many people understand that oral health is important, but the majority of people don’t know how it impacts your overall health. Our team at Shaw Orthodontics wants to help change that.

Oral Health Affects Your Overall Health

More than 120 medical conditions show symptoms in the mouth which can be detected early by orthodontists. Bad breath, bleeding gums and dry mouth are warning signs of not only oral diseases but of other health conditions, too.

It’s no wonder that people with periodontal disease are 40 percent more likely to have another health condition than those without the disease. Having bacteria in your mouth is normal and healthy. But, if your average level of bacteria isn’t maintained through daily brushing and flossing, the buildup could cause inflammation in not just your mouth but in other parts of the body.

Several theories exist to explain the link between gum disease and other health issues. Gum disease is caused by bacteria. When left unchecked, this bacteria causes deep pockets between your teeth and gums. You may notice red, sore or bleeding gums when this happens. A large amount of gum disease-causing bacteria enters the bloodstream and travels to other parts of the body.

Harmful bacteria from the mouth has been found in the heart, brain, lungs and even the placenta of pregnant women. These particular bacteria are not normally found in these locations under healthy conditions. As your body tries to get rid of this foreign bacteria, the potential for other health problems such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease and pregnancy complications increases.

Research has shown that periodontal disease is associated with several other illnesses. For a long time, it was thought that bacteria was the factor that linked periodontal disease to other diseases in the body. However, more recent research demonstrates that inflammation may be responsible for the association. Treating inflammation may not only help manage periodontal diseases but may also help with the management of other chronic inflammatory conditions.

One great way to reduce the level of harmful bacteria in your mouth is by maintaining excellent oral hygiene. With significantly crowded, rotated, or crooked teeth, it’s extremely difficult for people to keep their teeth clean. Whenever teeth are straightened with braces or Invisalign, they become much easier to care for and to keep clean. At Shaw Orthodontics, we can help you keep your teeth clean so you can lower your risk of larger health issues.

Recent studies show a relationship between the excessive bacteria that cause gum disease and other oral issues with that of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and preterm birth. Your body is a contained system. What affects one part of the body often affects other parts of the body as well. Improved oral health contributes to improved health in the rest of your body.

Boy's teeth

Cardiovascular Disease

Research has shown that those suffering from gum disease are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those without it. Strokes, clogged arteries, and heart disease have been found to have a possible connection with oral inflammation and infections.


Experts have discovered that diabetics have a higher risk of developing gum disease than those who do not have diabetes. Gum disease also may make it harder to keep diabetes under control. In fact, infection and inflammation in the oral cavity can have a major effect on blood sugar – not good news for a diabetic.


Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause women to experience various oral health problems. If left untreated, these minor issues can lead to bigger problems such as gum disease. There’s also a link between oral health and preterm birth. Oral conditions like gum disease take a toll on the whole body and can cause a woman to give birth prematurely. If you notice any oral changes during your pregnancy, reach out to your dentist or orthodontist for help.

Can I Get Braces If I Have Periodontal Disease?

If you have periodontal disease and you’re hoping for orthodontic treatment to improve your smile, there’s still hope. Treatment is possible, but first, we need to get your periodontal disease under control. Deep cleanings and other treatments may be necessary to achieve that, but once your teeth and gums are healthier, we can move on to the next step.

Invisalign Treatment

Invisalign might be a good option for patients who have gum disease because you can remove your aligners to brush and floss. Instead of conventional brackets and archwires, Invisalign uses a series of clear plastic aligners that gradually shift your teeth into proper position. You remove the aligners when eating, drinking and practicing oral hygiene. This can be helpful to patients trying to control their gum disease because it eliminates the additional appliances around which food particles can become lodged. It also gives you the added bonus of having an aesthetic orthodontic treatment process that’s virtually invisible to others.

girl at doctors office

Keeping Gum Disease At Bay During Orthodontic Treatment

We want your teeth and gums to remain healthy throughout orthodontic treatment, which is why we stress the importance of maintaining routine dental exams and professional teeth cleanings with your regular dentist throughout orthodontic treatment. Our team here at Shaw Orthodontics is happy to answer your questions about oral hygiene, and we give each patient an oral hygiene kit complete with dental floss, travel toothbrushes, floss threaders, soft picks and proxy brushes. We’ll show you what these tools are used for, as well as how to use them. All of them are handy when it comes to removing food particles that can lead to gum disease.

As you can see, proper oral care is not just important in keeping your mouth healthy. There’s no doubt that there is a connection between oral health, orthodontics and overall health, so make sure you are maintaining proper oral hygiene.

Dr. Shaw can assist you in getting your oral health back on track. If you are in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, stop by one of our convenient Shaw Orthodontics offices located in Watauga or Rockwall or call us today.