The Effect of Oral Health on Systemic Health

The Effect of Oral Health on Systemic Health imageTaking proper care of your teeth and gums reduces your risk of systemic infections and other health issues directly and indirectly. Many research studies have established the link between good oral health and overall health over the years. Sadly, despite the importance of protecting your oral health, over 111 million individuals in the United States who see a primary care physician yearly do not see a dentist. It is a missed opportunity to protect not only their oral health but their systemic health as well.

How Are Oral Health and Overall Health Linked?

Your mouth is filled with bacteria. Fortunately, most of it is harmless, but the mouth is the entryway to countless bacteria and microbes that find their way to your respiratory tract and digestive system every day.

Without proper dental hygiene, including brushing and flossing, harmful bacteria can grow out of control, leading to cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. Taking certain medications such as antihistamines, diuretics, and some painkillers and antidepressants suppresses saliva production. This can lead to an acid imbalance that encourages tooth decay and can contribute to disease.

Numerous studies have linked dental inflammation and periodontitis to diseases such as diabetes, HIV, and other infections. Since these other diseases can suppress the effectiveness of your immune system, you may, in turn, develop more oral health problems. It can become a vicious cycle requiring treatment by both your primary care doctor and your dentist.

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Diabetes and Oral Health

Diabetes and dental health have a strong link both ways – either one can dramatically impact the condition of the other. Treating periodontal disease positively impacts diabetes and the other way around. Gum disease is more frequent and more severe in patients with diabetes. Research indicates that diabetes patients with gum disease have difficulty controlling their blood sugar levels. Due to poor healing ability, diabetics are more likely to experience jawbone loss, oral abscesses, and dental caries.

Other Diseases Negatively Impacted by Poor Oral Health

While diabetes has the strongest link with oral health, other illnesses have links to oral health, including:

Heart Disease

Research indicates that various forms of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and clogged arteries may be impacted by oral inflammation due to gum disease. Bacteria from oral infections may also affect heart health. Endocarditis, a potentially fatal infection of the lining of the heart valves, is often the result of germs originating in the mouth that spread to the heart through the bloodstream.

Pregnancy Complications

Women with active periodontal disease are more likely to experience premature delivery and have babies with low birth weight. Both are linked to continuing health care problems for parent and child.

Respiratory Illnesses

Pneumonia, severe bronchitis, emphysema, and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) can all result from aspirating bacteria from the oral cavity into the respiratory tract. Recent studies have shown that up to 50% of individuals aspirate bacteria into their lungs while sleeping. If you suffer from infection or tooth decay, you may be inhaling bacteria and germs into your lungs.

Nutritional Considerations

When your teeth are damaged or missing, your overall health and quality of life can drop significantly. Part of this is due to an inability to eat well because of sensitivity and an inability to chew food properly. Poor nutrition is often the result.

The Takeaway

It is clear there is a link between good oral health and systemic health. Each one affects the other, creating a cycle that can be mutually beneficial or detrimental. Routine health checks by your primary care doctor and dentist are essential to protecting your health, as is a collaboration between medical and dental care providers. To protect your overall health, you must also maintain good oral hygiene.

How to Protect Your Oral Health

There are steps you can take for good oral health that can contribute to better overall health, including:

  • Brush twice a day with a soft-bristle toothbrush
  • Floss at least once a day before brushing your teeth
  • Rinse with mouthwash after flossing and brushing
  • Have a professional dental cleaning and checkup every six months
  • Do not use tobacco products
  • Get a new toothbrush every 3-4 months
  • Limit consumption of sugary foods and beverages
  • Contact your dentist immediately if you have any dental problems

Take the next step in protecting your overall health by scheduling an appointment with Main Line Dental Group for a dental checkup and cleaning. At your appointment, be sure to tell our doctors about any health problems you have. We will review your overall and dental health with you and explain the steps you can take to protect both.

Contact our office at Main Line Dental Group Phone Number 610-971-0717 or schedule an appointment online to set up your appointment today.

Ready To Take The Next Step In You Dental Health?
Contact Our Office Today To Schedule An Appointment!


Main Line Dental Group Phone Number 610-971-0717 Book Online