It is not all about your teeth!

Article by Dr Raha Sepehrara

Previously it was thought that certain types of bacteria within your mouth would cause gum disease and eventually your teeth would fall out. However in more recent years it has been found that there is so much more to it. It is not quite as straight forward as brushing your teeth twice daily and you will avoid gum disease. There are some lifestyle risk factors that are now associated with gum disease such as smoking, drinking excessively, oral hygiene and diet. Also your general health and some diseases are also linked with gum disease.


The lifestyle risk factors can influence susceptibility of gum disease in some people. It is possible to control these particular risk factors. It is important that patients brush twice daily every day in order to maintain a healthy mouth. However, this alone may not be enough, all individual’s need to consider their lifestyle choices and its impact on their oral health.

I think patients are becoming more aware of potential risks to their health and taking the necessary steps to keep fit and healthy. Your general health can affect your gums and vice versa. This is why we take the time to find out about our patients, we need to know if you have any health complaints and if you are taking any pills or potions. It helps us to determine whether you are more susceptible to gum disease and we can then assist you in the prevention and/or management of the disease.

Gum disease has been closely linked to heart disease, diabetes, strokes, lung problems, premature babies etc.

 Heart Disease/ Strokes/ Heart Attacks:                       

When you have inflammation of your gums the bacteria from your mouth may enter your bloodstream. They attach themselves to your blood cells and may cause narrowing of your arteries or even blockages. This increases the risk of strokes and in some cases even heart attacks.


If you are a diabetic it can be difficult sometimes to control your blood sugar levels. When you have inflammation of your gums it becomes increasingly more difficult to control. When the blood sugar levels are raised this can provide the bacteria within your mouth with the necessary nutrients they require to thrive. Your immune system is slightly impaired which means that it is harder to fight off infection.


During pregnancy your hormone levels are constantly shifting, this alters the way your gums react to the bacteria within your mouth. Your immune response to the bacteria within your mouth is slightly exaggerated due to the changes in hormone levels which then cause inflammation of the gums. Women that have gum disease have been reported to be more likely to give birth prematurely to low weight babies. Further research is required to obtain the exact reasoning behind this.

Lung Problems:

There are certain types of bacteria that are commonly found to be present in patients with gum disease. These may also pre –dispose patients to respiratory problems such as pneumonia and other chronic lung problems.

These are only a few potential factors that may affect the health of your gums as well as your general health. Not only are your teeth very important to us but equally your health. To us you are not simply teeth and gums. If we are aware of any influencing factors that may leave you vulnerable to gum disease this allows us to provide the best possible care.




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