Leaky Gum Syndrome & The Oral-Systemic Link

Few of us think much about the health of our mouth lining unless our gums are swollen and red or if we have mouth pain. But the tissue lining your gums and the inside of your mouth is vitally important to keeping you safe from heart disease, joint pain, and brain disease. How do healthy gums protect you from all of that? Your mouth lining is a critical defense between infections in your mouth and the rest of your body. Bleeding, swollen, sore gums can point to a weak defense in the mouth and may affect one out of every two people. Clinicians and consumers can use natural treatments to reduce bacterial overgrowth, turn off inflammation, and heal the mouth lining. Turn bleeding gums into happy, pink gums. Your smile will shine, and your body will thank you for it.

What is leaky gum syndrome?

Leaky gum syndrome, or leaky mouth, is the condition of damaged gums and mouth tissues, which allows harmful microbes and inflammatory chemicals from the mouth into the bloodstream. Up to fifty percent of people have periodontal disease, or leaky gums, making this a potentially widespread problem.

What Causes Bleeding Gums, Pain, and Gums Separating from Teeth (Leaky Gum Syndrome)?

  • Oral dysbiosis
  • Infections
  • Lack of dental hygiene and dental visits
  • Low levels of protective, good bacteria
  • Mouth breathing
  • Inflammatory, high-sugar diet
  • Poor immune defenses
  • Weak mouth tissues
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Blood sugar imbalances
  • Allergens
  • Irritants
  • Malnutrition
  • Smoking
  • Genetic risk

Think of the mouth lining just like your skin, except it’s on the inside. When the gums and mouth lining develop tiny holes in them, foreign invaders can “leak” into the bloodstream, where they don’t belong. Bacteria living in pockets under the gumline can seep in, too. From there, these harmful invaders or chemicals can travel to the brain, heart, joints, uterus, and more1. This process, bacteremia, may be the explanation for the oral-systemic link, the strong relationship observed between gum disease and many, many other whole-body illnesses.

There are systemic diseases more common in people with gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. If you have bleeding, swollen gums, gingivitis, or gum disease and you have one or more of the systemic conditions listed below, then your oral health is likely contributing to systemic disease. In other words, the problem in your mouth is harming other parts of your body, Alzheimer’s disease2,3, autoimmune diseases4, cardiovascular disease5, depression4, diabetes6, head and neck cancers7, high CRP in blood, inflammatory bowel disease9, lung infections and pneumonia, preterm birth, rheumatoid arthritis9. If you have one of these conditions with a history of “bad teeth” or lots of dental work, or if you get worse after dental work, then your mouth could be a major player in your illness.

Called the oral-systemic link, it is now clear that preventing disease throughout the body begins in the mouth. Leaky gums could be the explanation for how oral health is linked to systemic diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, and more. Similar to the well-documented phenomena of leaky gut syndrome, leaky mouth can break down immune defenses and leave the body open to invasion. That means that symptoms of bleeding gums, or puffy, sore gums can lead to a downward spiral of other related illnesses. Testing can help to identify and treat oral pathogens that harm the gums, teeth, and bones. Treatments can stop oral dysbiosis, turn off inflammation, and heal the mouth lining. By reversing leaky gum syndrome, you can get rid of painful gums while also strengthening the immune system and protecting the body from infection.

This a condensed version of Cass Nelson Dooley’s full blog. You can find more about Cass on the Health First Consulting page of our protocol directory. We welcome her expertise, writing skills and finesse interpreting patients’ results.


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  3. Haditsch U, Roth T, Rodriguez L, et al. Alzheimer’s Disease-Like Neurodegeneration in Porphyromonas gingivalis Infected Neurons with Persistent Expression of Active Gingipains. J Alzheimers Dis. 2020;75(4):1361-1376.
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Cass Nelson-Dooley MS