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Can Gum Disease Kill You? What You Should Know!

By Johanna Kalons

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This article was created after thorough research and has been improved with the assistance of AI technology. Furthermore, our dedicated editorial team has meticulously fact-checked and polished its content for accuracy and clarity.

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a common oral health issue that affects millions worldwide. It is a chronic inflammatory condition caused by bacteria that accumulate around the gum line, leading to the destruction of the supporting bone and tissues around the teeth.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of adults aged 30 and older suffer from some form of periodontal disease. While it may seem like a localized issue, research has shown that gum disease can have far-reaching consequences for overall health.

In this article, we’ll examine whether gum diseases can be deadly or not.

Key takeaways:

Gum disease is a serious condition that can lead to various health complications if left untreated.
Although gum disease doesn’t directly result in death, it can exacerbate other health problems that might escalate into life-threatening conditions if not adequately addressed.
Maintaining excellent oral hygiene through routine brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups is pivotal in preventing gum disease and its complications.

Consequences Of Gum Disease: Is It Lethal?

While gum disease itself is not a direct cause of death, several studies have established links between periodontal disease and life-threatening conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer.

The chronic inflammation associated with gum disease is believed to contribute to the buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Consequences Of Gum Disease

Additionally, research published in the National Library of Medicine suggests that periodontal disease have a higher risk of developing cancer, including lung, kidney, and pancreatic cancer. The exact mechanisms behind this link are still being investigated, but it is thought that the bacteria and inflammation associated with gum disease may play a role in promoting cancer development.

In severe cases, untreated periodontal disease can also lead to potentially life-threatening conditions such as sepsis (a widespread infection) or Ludwig’s angina (a rapidly spreading infection in the neck and floor of the mouth).

“Gum disease can be a silent killer,” warns Dr. Alice Boghosian, a periodontal expert at the American Dental Association. “While it may start as a seemingly minor issue, if left untreated, it can escalate into a systemic condition that puts your life at risk “

Ways To Maintain The Health Of The Gums

Maintaining good oral hygiene and seeking professional dental care are essential for preventing and managing gum disease. Here are some effective ways to keep your gums healthy:

1. Brush and floss regularly: Brushing twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and flossing once a day can help remove plaque and food particles that contribute to gum disease.

2. Use an antiseptic mouthwash: Rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash can help kill bacteria and reduce inflammation in the gums.

3. Quit smoking: Smoking is a significant risk factor for gum disease and can impair the body’s ability to fight infection.

4. Maintain a healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can help support gum health and overall well-being.

5. Visit your dentist regularly: Regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings can help detect and address gum disease in its early stages.

How To Know If You Have Gum Disease/ Gingivitis?

Recognizing the early signs of gingivitis is crucial for preventing its progression to more severe forms of gum disease. Here are some common symptoms:

◾Swollen or puffy gums

◾Gums that bleed easily, especially during brushing or flossing

◾Persistent bad breath

◾Occurance of receding gums

◾Tender or painful gums

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s essential to schedule an appointment with your dentist for a proper evaluation and treatment.

Is Gum Disease Contagious?

Gum disease itself is not contagious, but the bacteria that cause it can be transmitted from person to person through saliva. According to the American Dental Association, “Periodontal disease is not transmissible through airborne exposure or casual contact, but it can be passed from person to person through saliva.”

To reduce the risk of spreading or contracting gum disease, it’s essential to avoid sharing personal items that come into contact with saliva, such as toothbrushes, drinking glasses, or eating utensils.

Is It Possible For Gum Disease To Spread To Other Parts Of The Body?

Yes, the bacteria and inflammation associated with gum disease can potentially spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream. As mentioned by the ScienceDirect, periodontal disease is associated with several other diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

This is why it’s essential to take gum disease seriously and seek prompt treatment, as it can have far-reaching consequences beyond just oral health.

What Are The Common Periodontal Treatments?

The treatment approach for periodontal disease is determined by its severity level. Common treatment options include:

Common Periodontal Treatments

1. Scaling and root planing: This non-surgical procedure involves removing plaque and tartar from the tooth surfaces and root surfaces below the gum line.

2. Antibiotics: In some cases, antibiotics may be prescribed to help control the bacterial infection associated with gum disease.

3. Surgical procedures: For advanced cases of periodontal disease, surgical interventions such as flap surgery, bone grafts, or tissue regeneration techniques may be necessary to restore the supporting structures around the teeth.

“The key to successful periodontal treatment is a combination of professional care and diligent home care,” explains Dr. Vivek Mehta, a periodontal specialist. “A commitment to proper oral hygiene practices, such as brushing, flossing, and using antibacterial mouthwashes, is essential for maintaining the results of treatment and preventing further disease progression.”

Also read: What Can I Eat After Wisdom Teeth Removal? And What To Avoid?


While gum disease itself is not directly fatal, the potential consequences of leaving it untreated can be far-reaching and potentially life-threatening. The chronic inflammation and bacterial overgrowth associated with periodontal disease have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, certain types of cancer, and other systemic health issues.

By prioritizing good oral hygiene practices, seeking regular dental check-ups, and addressing gum disease in its early stages, individuals can significantly reduce their risk of developing these serious health complications. Remember, maintaining optimal oral health is not just about preserving your smile – it’s also about protecting your overall well-being.

As Dr. Golding aptly stated, “Periodontal disease is a silent threat that often goes unnoticed until it’s too late. By taking proactive steps to maintain gum health, we can not only save our teeth but also potentially save our lives.”


1. Can you live a long life with gum disease?

Yes, with proper treatment and management, it is possible to live a long life with gum disease. However, untreated gum disease can lead to other systemic health issues that may impact lifespan.

2. Can gum disease be cured?

Gingivitis (early stage gum disease) can be cured with professional treatment and good oral hygiene. Advanced periodontal disease cannot be completely cured, but it can be managed and controlled with treatment.

3. What happens if gum disease is left untreated?

If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss, bone loss in the jaw, and increase the risk of other systemic health problems like heart disease, stroke, and respiratory issues.

4. How long can you keep your teeth with periodontal disease?

With proper treatment and excellent oral hygiene, it is possible to keep your teeth for life, even with periodontal disease. However, the longevity of your teeth depends on the severity of the disease and how well it is managed.

5. Will I lose my teeth if I have periodontal disease?

Not necessarily. With timely treatment and good oral care, it is possible to prevent tooth loss due to periodontal disease. However, if left untreated, advanced periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss.


NIDCR (n.d) Periodontal (Gum) Disease Available online at: https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/gum-disease

AAP (2024) Gum Disease and Other Diseases Available online at: https://www.perio.org/for-patients/gum-disease-information/gum-disease-and-other-diseases/

Johanna Kalons

Dr. Johanna S. Kalons, is a dedicated and compassionate dentist practicing in Charlotte, North Carolina, Dr. Johanna S. Kalons has built a reputation for delivering exceptional dental care. With a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from the prestigious University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, her expertise lies in Oral Appliance Therapy for the treatment of sleep apnea.

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