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Research has shown links between gum disease and several other systemic illnesses, including heart disease, stroke and breast cancer.

Swollen gums are a main symptom of gum disease with the infection below the gum line. Bacteria can now travel throughout the body via the many vascular pathways in the mouth, including those leading back to the heart.

Researchers found severe gum disease increased the risk of an ischemic stroke, particularly for men and for subjects under 60 years of age. Post-menopausal women who have gum disease have a 14% overall increased risk of breast cancer. The % jumps to over 30% if the woman smokes or has smoked in the past 20 years.

Some dental laser procedures can kill bacteria without harming healthy tissue. In March 2016, the FDA cleared one procedure to regenerate the bone and tissues lost to gum disease.