Periodontal disease is a common condition that ranges from simple gum inflammation to a serious disease causing major damage to the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth, and loss of teeth. Periodontal disease has also been linked with heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, as well as oral, esophageal, head and neck, pancreatic and lung cancers.
Previous studies have suggested that chronic inflammation could provide the link. Risk factors for periodontal disease include genetic predisposition, smoking and hormonal changes in girls and women, which can make gums more sensitive so that it is easier for gingivitis to develop. People with reduced ability to fight infection due to diseases such as diabetes or treatment for cancer are also prone. Medications that limit the flow of saliva can also leave the mouth vulnerable to infections.