Four Ways Poor Oral Health Can Affect Your Overall Health

Four Ways Poor Oral Health Can Affect Your Overall Health

Are you currently living in a humid state like North Carolina? Is your city as hot and muggy as Wake Forest is in the summer? Do you often feel dehydrated, making your mouth feel as parched as a desert? Well, it is time to pay special attention to your oral hygiene. 

High humidity can often lead to dehydration and a dry mouth, causing a reduction in saliva production. And saliva? It fights off pesky bacteria, neutralizes acids, and keeps everything in check. 

What may surprise many individuals is that poor oral health doesn’t just affect their teeth and gums but their overall health and well-being. While the two may seem unrelated, a 2015 research on the relationship between oral health and overall health in North Carolina concluded that adults who had lost six or more teeth were more likely to report poor or fair general health, especially among those who were younger than 65 years. The study also found that adults with poor oral health were more likely to have chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. They were also more likely to be hospitalized and to have difficulty chewing and eating.

Why Get Regular Dental Checkups?

Despite several demographic factors that play a role in oral health, such as educational attainment, income, and pre-existing health issues that may worsen oral conditions, there are some ways to establish good oral hygiene habits. From regular brushing and flossing to using fluoride-infused toothpaste and keeping up with dental checkups, your mouth health can go from its collapse to its prime. 

Your dentist can also refer you to an orthodontist if you have aesthetic concerns about your smile. You can find the Best orthodontist in Wake Forest, NC, to cater to your specific needs and concerns. An orthodontist can straighten teeth, close gaps, and correct other orthodontic issues.

Having a beautiful smile can make you feel more confident and improve your overall well-being. By following good oral hygiene habits and getting regular dental checkups, you can keep your teeth and gums healthy and maintain a beautiful smile for years to come.

Ways Poor Oral Health Impacts Overall Well-being

Let’s take a closer look at the relationship between oral health and your overall well-being.

1. Heart Issues 

Where heart health is concerned, poor oral hygiene can significantly damage it. Individuals with optimal oral health and healthy immune systems usually have negligible amounts of harmful bacteria inside their mouth that render no negative effects on the internal body when mixed with saliva and passed down. However, individuals suffering from gum disease have excess harmful bacteria, which negatively affects heart health upon contact. 

There is some evidence that poor oral health may be a risk factor for some types of cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack and stroke. The bacteria that cause gum disease can enter the bloodstream through tiny cuts or sores in the gums. Once in the bloodstream, the bacteria can travel to other parts of the body, including the heart. The bacteria can cause inflammation in the heart, leading to heart disease.

However, it is important to note that other factors, such as smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, are also important risk factors for heart disease. Having gum disease does not necessarily mean that you will develop heart disease.

2. Diabetes

There is a bidirectional relationship between gum disease and diabetes. People with diabetes have a higher chance of developing gum disease and vice versa.

How does it work?

High blood sugar levels can damage the gums and make them more susceptible to infection. The bacteria that cause gum disease can also make it harder for the body to control blood sugar levels.

What can you do?

If you have diabetes, you must practice good oral hygiene to prevent gum disease. This includes brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing once a day, and visiting your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.

If you have gum disease, it is also important to manage your diabetes. This includes taking medication as prescribed, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly.

3. Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disorder that hinders patients’ cognitive functioning and memory retention, rendering them unable to perform simple daily tasks. As patients’ Alzheimer’s worsens, their ability to keep up with their oral hygiene routine depletes. Since they cannot brush and floss their teeth daily, harmful bacteria build up in the mouth and enter the bloodstream. 

Aside from the bad breath and tooth loss this can cause, a recent study led by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) suggests that the bacteria associated with periodontal disease that causes chronic inflammation are also associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, especially vascular dementia

4. Pneumonia 

Harmful mouth bacteria entering the bloodstream through saliva are not the only cause of health issues within the body. In fact, when bacteria build-up increases in the mouth, the chances of inhaling bacteria increase simultaneously. The aspiration of bacteria-laden oropharyngeal particles into the respiratory system, or the pulling of mouth bacteria into the lungs, can, in turn, cause aspiration pneumonia, bronchitis, and other respiratory diseases. According to a Korean study, the risk of pneumonia was higher in people with noticeable dental issues, such as cavities and missing teeth. 

Research has found that people who never get dental checkups have an 86% higher risk of getting pneumonia than those who get checkups regularly, evidencing that regular dental checkups are the way to escape respiratory infections. 


If you were unaware of how poor oral health and hygiene can affect your general health before, you now know. A pearly smile and strong gums cannot be achieved without effort, but their positive impact on your overall well-being and quality of life makes the struggle worthwhile. Sticking to a well-curated dental care routine shall protect you from a host of diseases that can otherwise take a significant toll on your health in more ways than you can imagine!

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