Gum disease and Systemic diseases

This is a Biggie! Did you know that gum disease has a strong association with systemic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes? There are less strong associations with kidney disease, obesity, Metabolic syndrome, strokes, issues with pregnancy, pneumonia and chronic obstructive airways disease. There are even suggestions about a link with rheumatoid arthritis. That’s quite a list.

The link with diabetes is such, that if your gums are in a poor state, it can upset your diabetic ‘glycemic control’ and visa versa.

Patients with gum disease are twice as likely to have chronic kidney disease than those without1 . Smoking is an ‘independent risk factor’ for the development of chronic Kidney Disease2 and significant risk factor for kidney failure. Smoking cessation decreased the risk in men in this study3.

 Up to 42% of periodontitis (more serious form of gum disease) cases may be related to smoking (NHAMES Survey 2000). 4 Of patients that actually attend the dentist, 22% are smokers (ADHS 2009) 5 of which 61 % would like to stop (Adult smoking habits in the U.K. 2017). 6

To cut a long story short, if you have gum disease and you have excellent oral hygiene AND you can address the risk factors of gum disease, this will improve the management of any systemic disease you may have.

What are the RISK FACTORS? not surprisingly they are the same as the risks for most of the systemic disease; smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, excessive alcohol consumption and poor oral hygiene. There are other factors such as genetics and some types of stress that you cannot have any control of.


  1. Ricardo AC, Athavale A, Chen J, et al. Periodontal disease, chronic kidney disease and mortality: results from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. BMC Nephrol. 2015;16:97.
  2. Xia J,Wang L,Ma Z, Zhong L, Wang Y, Gao Y et al. Cigarette smoking and chronic kidney             disease in the general population: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective  cohort studies. Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2017 Mar 1;32(3):475-487.
  3. Hallan SI, Orth SR. Smoking is a risk factor in the progression to kidney failure. Kidney International. September 2011; Volume 80, Issue 5,(1):516-523.
  4. (NHAMES Survey 2000). US based health survey
  5. Steele J, O’ Sullivan I. (ADHS 2009) Executive Summary: Adult Dental Health Survey 2009; March 2011
  6. Office for National Statistics; Adult smoking habits in the U.K. 2017
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