4 Ways Oral Health Effects Your Overall Health

Having a healthy mouth and a clean smile is clearly important for your oral hygiene, but would it surprise you to know that your oral health effects other parts of your body? In fact having a healthy oral hygiene can prevent a few diseases and issues in your body and life.

dentist office teeth group of nurses looking at xrays

Keeping your teeth clean and having your dentist lecture you about brushing and flossing isn’t just to keep your pearly whites attractive.  It’s to make sure you are, in fact, healthy, and living the best life you possibly can.  Here are a few issues that can be prevented with a good healthy oral hygiene.

Cardiovascular Disease

“Some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause” (source).  The issue lies with patients not seeing their dentist, assuming they have healthy teeth because they’re not bother them.  But statistics show that more than 80 percent of Americans are living with periodontal or gum disease, and most of it goes undetected.  This puts them at risk for heart disease as their gum disease progresses.  Your mouth, particularly your gums, re connected through the blood stream.  Having gum disease means you have a collection of bacteria in your gums.  As this bacteria starts to flow within your bloodstream, it will eventually reach your heart.  This can cause a number of cardiovascular diseases including endocarditis (an infection of the inner lining of the heart), atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), and even stroke caused by oral bacteria (source).

Vising the dentist regularly and keeping up with your daily oral hygiene routine can put your mind at ease and you can feel comfortable in knowing you are in fact taking preventive measure for not only oral disease, but cardiovascular disease.


“The bacteria from gingivitis may enter the brain through either nerve channels in the head or through the bloodstream, that might even lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease” (source).  The specific bacteria is called Porphyromonas gingivalis.  In a recent study, resarches studied 20 donated brain samples.  Ten samples were from people with dementia and the other ten were without.  Four of the samples with dementia contained this bacteria, and it is theorized that this particular bacteria may cause changes in the brain contributing to symptoms including confusion and memory loss (source).

There is still much research to be done, but either way, this specific bacteria we do not want in our blood stream.  Flossing and brushing everyday and seeing your dentist regularly is pertinent to keep this bacteria out of the rest of your body.

Respiratory Infections

A study published by the American Academy of Periodontology found that people with respiratory diseases had worse periodontal health than those with healthy lungs.  Interesting, but it also shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise considering what we breath in goes through our lungs.  Consider the bacteria that is already in your mouth from poor hygiene and how you breath it in regularly.  As you breath in and out, tiny droplets of saliva are carried to and from the mouth with each breath.  If you have an excessive amount of harmful bacteria, you’re body is carrying this bacteria to your lungs.  Usually your immune system can prevent the bacteria from entering the lungs, but the tissue lining can become irritated and inflamed from the bacteria.  This could then cause issues such as bronchitis and pneumonia (source).

Next time you’re feeling under the weather, think about your oral health and have you been neglecting your teeth and gums.

Diabetic Complications

Being diabetic can cause some issues with your oral health, however, it should be noted that poor oral hygiene may also have an effect on your blood glucose control and eventually contribute to the progression of diabetes.  Serious cases of gum disease or neglecting to treat it are at an increased risk for becoming diabetic (source).

Overall, your oral health effects some of the most crucial parts of your body, including your heart, your lungs, and your brain.  Taking care of your mouth is not only pertinent for having a great smile, but it is crucial for your overall health.  Be sure you’re taking care of it by keeping up with a good oral hygiene routine and visiting your dentist regularly.

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Dr. Del Greenhalgh
Green Family Dental
10510 Montwood Drive
El Paso, TX 79935
(915) 778-4681