A recent article in the International Journal of Cardiology discussed a study that was done on 2 groups of people. One group had suffered recent heart attacks and the second was a control group. Their findings said that the heart patients had noticeably worse oral health than the control group. While the study didn't prove that bad gums and teeth caused heart attacks, it indicated that there was an association between the two.
In gingivitis (a milder form of gum disease) infection leads to chronic inflammation where the gums are red, swollen and sometimes bleeding. In periodontitis (the more severe form) the infection affects the bones that support the teeth, leading to tooth loss. In both cases, disease is caused by the accumulation of plaque/bacteria in the gums. These organisms release toxins that can circulate throughout the body.
The body's arterial system may be affected according to the Journal of Clinical Periodontology. "The more sever the gum disease, the thicker and harder the walls of the arteries". This is true even for young, healthy adults that have no other symptoms of heart problems. Gum disease threatens more than the heart. Scientists are finding more links between oral health and conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, preterm labor, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease and certain types of cancer.