Gum disease is an infection of the gum tissue caused by a buildup of tartar at the gum line. This infection causes inflammation. If it is left unchecked the gums can recede from the base of your teeth. This creates pockets in the gum tissue that can harbor infection. Overtime it can even cause a loss of the bone material anchoring your teeth.
The infection can also tax the immune system and lead to systemic infection. Recent research has found a relationship between this systemic inflammation and other serious health conditions. While gum disease does not cause these medical problems, they seem to happen more frequently together.
People with diabetes tend to have a higher occurrence of gum disease. The most common speculation is that diabetes also taxes the immune system making it harder for the body to fight infection. This makes it easier for bacteria to develop a foothold in the gum tissue.
Gum disease also seems to have a relationship with certain types of heart disease and stroke. This could also be related to the lifestyle choices such as tobacco use and poor diet.
At the same time middle age men with gum disease have been found to have a higher occurrence of kidney, and pancreatic cancer as well as certain types of blood cancers.
As time goes on research continues to shed new light on the relationship between gum disease, systemic inflammation and overall health continues. You can reduce the chances of developing gum disease by brushing and flossing twice a day and visiting your dentist for regular dental cleanings.