What Are the Risk Factors of Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an inflammatory condition marked by an excessive presence of harmful oral bacteria in the mouth. Although we tend to think that all bacteria are harmful, the majority are not. Of the 350 bacteria species present in the average healthy mouth, over 95% are either harmless or beneficial.1 However, when the balance of oral microorganisms is disrupted by an increase in bad bacteria, plaque begins to form on the teeth and along the gumline. Plaque accumulation causes inflammation of the gums and frequently results in swelling, redness, soreness and bleeding. This initial stage of gum disease is called gingivitis—and it’s entirely reversible with proper care. If left untreated, however, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, which is much more serious, and difficult to treat. So, what are the biggest risk factors associated with the development of gum disease?


The choices we make in our daily lives affect the way our bodies function. When we make healthy choices, such as maintaining a nutrient-dense diet, exercising, avoiding tobacco, and limiting alcohol consumption, the immune system thrives. Conversely, neglecting these healthy habits creates an environment that is ripe for disease. Long-term alcohol abuse is highly destructive to oral health, while smoking is the biggest preventable risk factor for gum disease.2 Other contributing factors to periodontal disease include an unbalanced diet and psychological stress.2 When it comes to preventing gum disease, a healthy lifestyle, combined with regular brushing, flossing, and routine trips to the dentist, is the best defense.


Though gingivitis often affects teenagers, the onset of gum disease is most prevalent in adults 35 and older.2

Female hormonal changes

Women experience hormonal changes throughout their lives. Hormone fluctuations during menstruation, pregnancy and menopause all affect oral health. Gum sensitivity increases during these times, making it easier for an inflammatory response to occur.3

Medical conditions

Research indicates systemic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and HIV/AIDS increase the risk for developing gum disease. Weakened immune systems are far more susceptible to infection.4 Many medications that treat these and other conditions also have side effects that adversely affect oral health.5


People with family members affected by gum disease are at an increased risk of developing it at some point in their lives.2

Reversing gum disease through natural oral care

In addition to healthy lifestyle choices and regular visits to the dentist, herbal mouth care products can help to ensure optimal oral health. Extensive research has shown that harsh chemical antimicrobial and antibiotic agents are not necessary for clean teeth, and that people with particularly sensitive gums often experience irritation with these products. Herbal extracts, such as those used in Truly Natural® Dental Herb Company products, have therapeutic value, and act as a natural remedy for gum disease; they are as gentle as they are effective. Due in large part to their gentle efficacy, the popularity of all-natural toothpastes and mouthwashes has steadily increased.

Dental Herb Company products contain five pure essential oils (not derivatives or synthetic equivalents) and two alcohol-free organic herbal extracts, which work synergistically to help reduce oral bacteria, soothe oral irritation, and condition and rebuild gum tissue. The formulae for the Tooth & Gums System took two decades to perfect and it is this dedication to creating a powerfully effective all natural alternative that has earned the company a reputation for excellence with patients and dentists alike. For more than a decade, Dental Herb Company products have been used and trusted by thousands of dentists. Now you can order the same professional strength products directly from the Dental Herb Company.


  1. Periodontitis (Causes).” Nytimes.com. New York Times, 11 Mar. 2013. Web.
  2. Periodontal Disease.” Umm.edu. Ed. Harvey Simon, MD. University of Maryland Medical Center, 11 Mar. 2013. Web.
  3. Periodontal (Gum) Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments.” Nidcr.nih.gov. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, Aug. 2012. Web.
  4. Chi, Angela C., DMD, Brad W. Neville, DDS, Joe W. Krayer, DDS, and Wanda C. Gonsalves, MD. “Oral Manifestations of Systemic Disease.” Aafp.org. American Family Physician, n.d. Web.
  5. Oral Side Effects of Medications.” WebMD.com. WebMD, n.d. Web.

Is There a Connection Between Gum Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Scientists have long been aware of a connection between gum disease and systemic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. A new growing body of evidence now appears to link gum disease to rheumatoid arthritis (RA). While the evidence is not conclusive, a strong correlation between the two exists.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the joints by causing pain, stiffness, and inflammation. It currently affects .5% to 1% of the global population.1 Periodontal disease is also a chronic inflammatory condition; it primarily affects gum tissue. Evidence from one study states that over 75% of Americans have some form of gum disease, yet most people are unaware they have it.2 Gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease, is typically marked by noticeably inflamed gums, as well as soreness and/or bleeding during brushing or flossing. If not treated, plaque accumulates at the gum line, causing further inflammation and gum recession. When the tissue of the pockets surrounding the teeth is damaged, harmful bacteria have access to the bloodstream—which in turn can cause serious problems in other parts of the body.3

Researchers have found a substantial increase in the prevalence of gum disease in patients with RA compared to those without it. In addition, the incidence of RA is higher in those with gum disease than those without.1 Statistics from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) explain the connection between the two chronic ailments based on several key factors. Both gum disease and arthritis result from an inflammatory response, and both are characterized by an overgrowth of bacteria that release toxins destructive to supporting tissues. People affected by both diseases exhibit more anti-citrullinated protein antibodies (ACPA), which increase bodily inflammation and exacerbate both conditions.4

Of the 20 bacterial species identified as periodontal pathogens, all are linked to gum disease. The most studied is Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis).1 Researchers from Germany’s Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg recently examined samples of synovial fluid (the fluid within joint capsules) from 42 patients with RA and found DNA matching oral bacteria—P. gingivalis in particular. The study concluded that those with RA are approximately 4.5 times more likely to have P. gingivalis bacteria in their synovial fluid than those without arthritis. Furthermore, they discovered that RA patients were 12 times more likely to have oral infections from P. gingivalis.5 Another study found that arthritis patients displayed a considerable increase in the levels of gingivitis bacteria, and the severity of gum disease correlated with the severity of the arthritis.7

What is the best gum disease treatment for patients with rheumatoid arthritis?

Oral health is interconnected with one’s overall health. And while the scientific community is in agreement regarding the connection between periodontal disease and rheumatoid arthritis, the exact relationship between these two destructive chronic inflammatory diseases is unknown. It is known that systemic diseases (which includes arthritis) are accompanied by an increase in the severity of gum disease6 because oral infections create a pathway for bacteria to enter the bloodstream. This can elicit an inflammatory response elsewhere7 in the body. And even though plaque buildup is recognized as one of the primary causes of periodontal disease, the progression of the disease is largely dependent on the overall strength of the subject’s immune functioning.8 According to the American Academy of Periodontology, the presence of gum disease can be an indicator of several forms of systemic diseases including RA.9

It is unknown whether gum disease precedes RA or RA precedes gum disease. What is known is that it is extremely important to take oral care seriously if you have arthritis. Regular dental visits are a must. In fact, some health professionals recommend those with RA have as many as four annual cleanings, as research suggests that treating dental problems early on will result in decreased symptoms in patients with severe arthritis.10 One study showed that reversing gum disease through professional dental care actually decreased RA sufferers’ overall pain level, number of swollen joints, and morning stiffness.10

Finding a natural treatment for gum disease

Increasing public awareness of the connection between gum disease and systemic diseases like arthritis is important from a holistic perspective. Brushing and flossing regularly, and using all natural gum disease treatment products are key to oral health. Natural toothpastes and mouth rinses both clean and heal inflammation safely and effectively. The ingredients in Dental Herb Company’s line of oral care products are completely natural and proven to be effective in combating harmful bacteria, reducing inflammation and eliminating bad breath. Pure essential oils and organic herbal extracts work synergistically to maintain healthy teeth and gums, and they’re a great alternative to the chemical products lining most commercial shelves. The best natural remedy for gum disease, lasting oral health and a reduced risk for systemic diseases is preventative care. Commit to better oral care today.


  1. Ogrendik, Mesut. “Rheumatoid Arthritis Is an Autoimmune Disease Caused by Periodontal Pathogens.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 24 May 2013. Web. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3668087/>.
  2. “Gingivitis- In-Depth Report.” Health.nytimes.com. New York Times, n.d. Web. <http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/gingivitis/print.html>.
  3. “Joint Failures Potentially Linked to Oral Bacteria.” ScienceDaily.com. ScienceDaily, 18 Apr. 2012. Web. <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120418112047.htm>.
  4. Pablo, P., T. Dietrich, and TE McAlindon. “Association of Periodontal Disease and Tooth Loss with Rheumatoid Arthritis in the US Population.” Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18050377>.
  5. Adams, Case. “Arthritis Linked to Gingivitis Bacteria.” GreenMedInfo.com. GreenMedInfo, n.d. Web. <http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/arthritis-linked-gingivitis-bacteria>.
  6. Chi, Angela C., DMD, Brad W. Neville, DDS, Joe W. Krayer, DDS, and Wanda C. Gonsalves, MD. “Oral Manifestations of Systemic Disease.” Aafp.org. American Family Physician, n.d. Web. <http://www.aafp.org/afp/2010/1201/p1381.html>.
  7. Gude, Dilip, Rekha Rani Koduganti, Surya J. Prasanna, and Lakshmi Radhika Pothini. “Mouth: A Portal to the Body.” Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 03 May 2006. Web.
  8. Kinane, DF. “Periodontitis Modified by Systemic Factors.” Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10863375>.
  9. “Diagnosis of Periodontal Diseases.” Journal of Periodontology 74 (2003): 1237-247.Umn.edu. University of Minnesota. Web. <http://www1.umn.edu/perio/periocasepresent/text/Diagnosis_of_Perio.pdf>
  10. “Treating Gum Disease Helps Rheumatoid Arthritis Sufferers.” ScienceDaily.com. ScienceDaily, 29 May 2009. Web. <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090528135252.htm>.