Good Oral Health for Life Blog: Gum Disease

What’s the big deal about gum disease? 

When we get busy in our day to day lives, when we’re in poor health, or when we’re feeling low, it’s not unusual to neglect our daily mouth care. Whether we take care of ourselves or have a personal assistant, it’s important to prevent disease. As the bacteria builds up on our teeth and gums, the common result is a gum infection that causes our gums to bleed, especially in the earlier stages. Why does that matter?

  • Oral-systemic (Mouth-Whole Body)
    • The body has one common bloodstream. When infected gums (periodontitis) bleed, the bacteria causing the infection enters the bloodstream. This can increase the risk of: 
      • heart attack 
      • stroke
      • diabetic complications
      • pneumonia
      • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
      • rheumatoid arthritis
      • osteoporosis  
    • Infection of the gums (gingivitis or periodontitis) lowers the immunity level decreasing the ability to recover from injury or illness and can worsen certain medical conditions.




Daily effective plaque removal and regular professional dental services will reduce the incidence and severity of whole body health issues and have a positive impact on a person’s well-being. Because the health of the mouth and the rest of the body are interconnected, overall health is closely connected to healthy gums, teeth, tongue, and mouth.

Next Month: Dental Costs vs. Disease Prevention; Simple Mouth Care Tips

Over the next few months, we will share a series of articles written by GCOA summer intern and dental hygienist Pam Cushenan,  MS TDEV, RDH, ATI, about oral health care for older Georgians. 

Pam Cushenan, MS TDEV, RDH, ATI, Is a licensed practitioner of dental hygiene since 1987 and the CEO and founder of SOFT Smiles, LLC in 2006. After many years of working with older adults and cognitively impaired patients, she developed the SOFT SmilesTM training program for caregivers of aging special needs patients. Pam has devoted much time and energy to developing resources and reaching an ever-growing number of caregivers across Georgia. She conducts education and training courses for families, care providers, and health professionals to provide them with the latest information in addressing the needs of this special population. In addition, she makes time to provide preventive oral care services to elders in long-term care settings.

In 2005, she joined the faculty of Georgia State University Perimeter College, Dunwoody as a full-time educator in the dental hygiene program. To date, a number of her articles have been published in oral health columns for the Alzheimer’s Association Magazine, RDH, Modern Hygienist, the Sunstar Dental Hygiene Newsletter, and Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. Today, she works tirelessly to combine her training techniques and educational methods to benefit students, professional and family caregivers, and functionally independent seniors in presentations and workshops across the country.