Could Gum Disease Be a Sign of Another Condition?

Gum Disease Mountain View, CA

It is easy to assume all gum disease is the result of poor oral hygiene. In many cases, it is. However, red or swollen gums can also be an indication of other health concerns completely unrelated to oral care. Because these conditions can be serious, it is important to pay attention to any changes or abnormalities in the gums. 

Conditions indicated by unhealthy gums 

Because mouth sores and swollen gums are fairly common, most people are unlikely to be concerned with these symptoms. The truth is, taking them seriously can help catch an illness in its early stages. 


Sores and ulcers on the gums can be a symptom of lupus. Because they are not always painful, these types of gum abnormalities can be easy to ignore. While some canker sores are not signs of a disease, it can still be helpful to visit a dental professional if the condition occurs frequently or does not heal. 

Heart disease

According to the Harvard Heart Letter, the plaque that sits on teeth and causes issues with the gums may be linked to plaque buildup in the arteries. People with gum disease are at least twice as likely to have a stroke, heart attack, or additional serious cardiovascular issues. While a direct connection has not been proven, chronic inflammation, such as is present in those with gingivitis, is known to play a key role in atherosclerosis. 

Crohn's disease

Crohn's disease is an autoimmune disease that weakens the immune system. Because the body is more susceptible to bacteria in a weakened state, the first areas to be affected are often those more readily exposed to bacteria, such as the mouth. The food and beverages ingested throughout the day contain and nourish bacteria that can quickly cause inflammation when allowed to remain on the gums. Gums that continue to swell and get ulcers despite excellent oral hygiene can be an early indication of an autoimmune condition such as Crohn's disease. 

High blood pressure

Both high blood pressure and some of the medications for high blood pressure can result in gum disease. Many people with high blood pressure experience swollen or bloody gums. If the gums are inflamed or easily bloodied, it can be a good idea to get a blood pressure test. 


Diabetes can lower the amount of blood able to reach the gums, causing them to become swollen or red or even to pull away from the teeth. Because periodontal disease can lead to high blood pressure, this is especially concerning, as elevated blood pressure can cause diabetic complications. People exhibiting symptoms of gum infection may benefit from being tested for diabetes. 


Swollen, inflamed gums can be a sign of gum disease. More than just a lack of oral hygiene, periodontal disease can be the body's way of indicating other more serious underlying conditions. As well, gum issues resulting from poor oral hygiene can also lead to health issues, so taking good care of the gums can directly impact the body's overall health. It is critical to address any concerning gum issues with a dental professional. 

Request an appointment here: or call Smiles Dental Care at (650) 563-1180 for an appointment in our Mountain View office.

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