Periodontal disease (unhealthy gums and teeth) often reflects serious health risks. Mild inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) can be prevented by regularly brushing and flossing teeth to remove plaque (buildup of a film on the teeth). This stops the development of tartar (hardened accumulation of plaque at the gum line), which can only be removed by dental cleaning. More serious infection, called periodontitis,
can cause not only disease of the gums, but loss of teeth and the bone structures that support the teeth. Periodontitis may be associated with heart disease, stroke, and systemic (whole body) infections. There is also evidence that premature births happen more often to women who have gum disease before or during their pregnancies.
The February 6, 2008, issue of JAMA includes an article about an association between periodontal disease and smoking marijuana.