Does Gum Disease Cause Stomach Issues?

Gum disease, also referred to as periodontal disease is an inflammatory condition that has been linked with many other conditions such as headaches, heart disease and diabetes, but can it cause stomach issues such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), ulcers and gastritis as well?  

Unfortunately, growing evidence suggests that a range of stomach issues can be caused or affected by periodontitis (advanced gum disease). Gum disease can also have an impact on digestion as well. 

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Stomach Issues Associated With Gum Disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or IBD for short is an umbrella term used to describe disorders that involve chronic inflammation of the digestive tract including Chrons disease and ulcerative colitis. Inflammatory cells and oral bacteria have been implicated in it’s progression.

doctor holding a small blackboard up which say Gastritis on it


Gastritis is the inflammation of the stomach lining. It can be acute or chronic and is caused by factors such as Helicobacter pylori infection. Some studies suggest a link between periodontal disease and H. pylori, which is known to cause gastritis.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

GERD is a chronic digestive disorder where stomach acid frequently flows back into the oesophagus, causing irritation. There is some evidence that gum disease may be associated with an increased risk of GERD, although the exact mechanism is not well understood. Chronic inflammation and the presence of certain bacteria may play a role.

Clipboard with the words Diagnosis GERD written on it
doctor holding a model of a stomach which contains food

Impact on Digestion

Severe gum disease and tooth loss can affect chewing efficiency, leading to poor digestion. Ineffective chewing can result in larger food particles entering the stomach, which may cause digestive discomfort and indigestion.

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the tissues that surround and support the teeth. It is primarily caused by poor oral hygiene, leading to the accumulation of plaque—a sticky film of bacteria—on the teeth and gums. This condition results in chronic inflammation of the gums, which can cause them to become red, swollen, and prone to bleeding. The early stage of gum disease, known as gingivitis, can progress to periodontitis if left untreated. Periodontitis is a more severe form of gum disease that can cause the gums to recede and teeth to become loose or fall out.

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How Does Gum Disease Cause Stomach Issues?

Scientists are still working out exactly how gum disease and stomach issues affect each other but it’s thought that it is caused by oral bacteria or inflammatory cells being able to move between the mouth and digestive tract where they have a negative impact on the progression of stomach issues.

It may help you to think of your mouth and gut being connected by a two-way street – where bacteria and cells of your immune system can travel backwards and forwards between each other. 

Inflammatory Cells

Gum disease causes inflammation in the mouth, and the inflammatory response can spread to other parts of the body, including the gastrointestinal tract

Gut Microbiome

The mouth and gut have complex communities of bacteria, known as the microbiome. When you have gum disease, the balance of bacteria in your mouth can be disrupted. These harmful bacteria can be swallowed and end up in your gut, affecting the gut microbiome and potentially leading to digestive problems.

It’s possible that first, oral bacteria weaken the stomach’s defences against infection. Second, the body’s immune response to harmful oral bacteria triggers an additional immune reaction that further weakens the stomach. Together, these mechanisms may compromise the stomach’s defences and increase the risk of IBD.

H. pylori

H. pylori is a type of bacteria that infects the stomach lining and is a common cause of peptic ulcers, and chronic gastritis, and can contribute to the development of stomach cancer. Individuals with periodontal disease are at higher risk of H. pylori infection. It’s thought that the oral cavity can act as a reservoir for H. pylori, allowing the bacteria to persist and spread as described above for oral bacteria that cause gum disease.

Additionally, chronic inflammation from gum disease can impair the body’s immune response, facilitating H. pylori colonisation in the stomach and worsening gastrointestinal issues.

Reducing The Risk Of Gum Disease Causing Stomach Issues

The good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of gum disease-causing stomach issues. These focus on preventing gum disease itself:

  • Brushing: Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, using a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste.
  • Flossing: Floss daily to remove plaque and food particles from between your teeth.
  • Dental Cleanings: Schedule regular dental cleanings, typically twice a year. Your dentist can remove plaque and tartar buildup that brushing and flossing alone can’t reach.
  • Diet: Limit sugary and processed foods, which can contribute to plaque buildup.
  • Smoking: Smoking cessation is crucial. Smoking weakens the immune system and increases the risk of gum disease.

By following these practices, you can significantly reduce your chances of developing gum disease and potentially minimise the risk of associated stomach problems.

Additionally, maintaining a healthy gut microbiome through diet and probiotic intake can further support your digestive health. However, it’s important to consult with a doctor or registered dietician for personalised advice on gut health.

Reclaim Your Health and Smile: Prevent and Control Stomach Issues by Tackling Gum Disease

Want to beat gum disease and stomach issues by reducing inflammation in your mouth and preventing it from spreading to your digestive system?

You can with Gum Disease: Solved our comprehensive guide that teaches you how to effectively reduce oral inflammation and stop it from causing stomach problems. 

Ready to to steps to prevent and control your stomach problems and your Gum Disease? Click here

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Written by Sharon Fyles

Periodontitis Expert & Writer

Sharon Fyles, BSc (Hons, SW), MSc, Dip,  is a Manchester-based expert dental writer specialising in periodontal diseases and their treatment.


Medically Reviewed and Verified by Dr. Gareth Edwards BDS (Hons), MFDS (RCPS Glasgow)

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