The Broader Health Implications of Gum Disease

Gum disease has been possibly associated with a number of serious health conditions: diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and at-risk pregnancies are a few of the most noteworthy examples of this. Recent research has also examined a potential connection between bleeding gums and pancreatic cancer; and still other scientists are exploring the theory that oral bacteria could play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s.


It is important to note that a direct causal relationship has yet to be established between gum disease and any of the aforementioned conditions. Though a plethora of research has noted and examined those connections, proving a cause-effect relationship is notoriously difficult and the potential for a single underlying cause of gum disease and the conditions listed above has not been ruled out either.


Nonetheless, these correlations do exist—and are so strong that a number of health insurance policies now include free care for gum disease. Given the historic divide between health and dental insurance in the United States, (that is to say, given the fact that health insurance policies are neither required nor expected to cover most dental conditions) this is quite astounding. Insurance companies are essentially volunteering enormous amounts of their own money to provide complimentary dental care, simply because they believe so firmly that this investment will by itself off by reducing the occurrence of conditions such as heart disease.

How exactly could a cause-effect relationship between gum disease and the aforementioned conditions even exist, one might ask? As it turns out, the answer has everything to do with the microbiome of the mouth. Researchers believe that the human mouth may provide the perfect breeding ground for bacteria that can damage a number of vital organs and lead to long-lasting health problems.