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How Dental Health Affects Overall Health

How Dental Health Affects Overall Health

When you think of oral health, you don’t necessarily link it to your overall health. After all, why would your teeth and gums contribute to diseases in your liver, kidney, and even your lungs? But there is a direct link on how dental health affects overall health.

Truth be told, like other parts of your body, your mouth is filled with bacteria – though often harmless. But without the proper oral care, these bacteria can get out of control and lead to oral infections like gum disease and tooth decay which play a pivotal role in leading conditions such as diabetes and heart-related problems.

In other words, your teeth and your gums can affect the rest of your body. Here are the other effects of poor oral care on health.

Effects of Poor Oral Health Care

Without proper oral care, various diseases may arise. Among them include:


When bacteria from your mouth spread through your bloodstream and reach certain areas of your heart, the inner lining of your heart or valves gets infected, also known as endocarditis. This is especially true for people with congenital heart defects, damaged/artificial heart valves, or other heart defects.

Cardiovascular disease

Some studies suggest that oral bacteria can actually cause heart disease, stroke, and clogged arteries. If bacteria from the gums infects the bloodstream, plaque may build up in the arteries and harden. This is actually a dangerous situation and can lead to heart blockages and blood flow problems, which also increases the risk of having a heart attack, hypertension, and even stroke.

Birth complications and pregnancy

One of the effects of poor oral care on health also includes birth complications and pregnancy. Periodontitis or the inflammation of the gums is often associated with premature childbirth and low birth weight. Because of the hormones produced during pregnancy, aggravated by poor oral care, a condition called Pregnancy gingivitis is also common among pregnant women, which often disappears after childbirth.

Pneumonia and other respiratory infections

When bacteria from your mouth gets pulled into your lungs, pneumonia and other respiratory diseases such as acute bronchitis and even chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a chronic inflammatory lung disease that prevents airflow from the lungs, may happen.


Poor oral care also involves smoking and using tobacco products and this can lead to cancers such as oral and throat cancers. But of course, gum diseases have also been linked to other types of cancers such as pancreatic, kidney, and blood cancer.

Kidney Disease

Again, infections in the gum such as periodontal disease can lead to kidney disease. Because people with gum disease often have weakened immune systems, they are more prone to kidney disease. This can lead to more serious illnesses, such as kidney failure and cardiovascular disease.


According to some experts, those with gum disease have a more difficult time controlling and managing their blood sugar levels, which may eventually lead to diabetes. Those who have diabetes, furthermore, are more susceptible to gum disease.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis can also be one of the effects of poor oral care on health. According to the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, people who suffer from gum disease are more likely to suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, too. Both have similarities – the oral inflammation from gingivitis can raise inflammation all over the body, which increases the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, a debilitating and painful inflammatory disease.

Other Conditions

There are, of course, other conditions that may stem from poor oral hygiene. These include:


Tooth loss and periodontal bone loss is often connected with osteoporosis, a disease in which the quality of bones are reduced.

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia

Poor oral care can affect the brain and substances from inflamed gums kill brain cells and even contribute to memory loss. When bacteria from the mouth enters the bloodstream, gingivitis can also cause Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. People with poor oral hygiene or gum disease could be at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared to those with healthy teeth and gums.


One of the symptoms often associated with HIV and AIDS is problems inside the mouth. Frequent tooth decay and gum problems may be a sign of this underlying condition. It is also important to know that poor oral health puts HIV patients at risk for infection.


Research has suggested that one of the effects of poor oral care on health, especially gum disease, are problems with infertility in women. It has been proven that women with dental health challenges find getting pregnant more difficult as compared to women who have a healthy set of teeth and gums.

Gum disease can act as a focus of infection leading to bacteremia, which can lead to complications in conceiving naturally or through IVF in women. However, further research is needed.

Erectile Dysfunction

Similar to the problems women face, poor oral hygiene can also lead to an increased risk of erectile dysfunction for men. Chronic periodontal disease (CPD) is an infection that happens when there is inflammation of the gum tissues. This may result in the loss of teeth if left untreated. In addition, bacteria from the infection can get into the bloodstream, blocking the flow of blood to the genitals, making erections more difficult.

A Direct Link: How Dental Health Affects Overall Health

There are naturally many diseases that are often linked with oral health such as rheumatoid arthritis, eating disorders, certain cancers and immune system disorders, which may lead to dry mouth. If faced with these conditions and more, talk to your dentist about your changes to overall health, especially if you have been diagnosed with chronic conditions.

So how to prevent all of these chronic diseases from happening? Well, it all boils down to taking care of your teeth and gums, and making sure that you practice good oral care. Some of the ways to do this include brushing your teeth often, flossing regularly, eating healthy food and having a balanced diet, avoiding smoking and inhaling other tobacco products, and a host of other pointers.

Key Takeaways

The aforementioned conditions highlight how dental health affects overall health.

The effects of poor oral care on health are indeed many. But with the right, and proper and efficient way of taking care of your teeth and your gums, you can prevent these medical conditions from developing.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Oral health: A window to your overall health, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/dental/art-20047475, Accessed Dec 20, 2020 10 health issues caused by bad oral health, https://www.absolutedental.com/blog/10-health-issues-caused-by-bad-oral-health/, Accessed Dec 20, 2020 HIV and oral health, https://www.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/151930/htfl_hiv_oral.pdf, Accessed Dec 20, 2020 How poor dental hygiene can affect your overall health, https://www.shallowfordfamilydental.com/how-poor-dental-hygiene-can-affect-your-overall-health/, Accessed Dec 20, 2020 10 damaging effects of poor dental hygiene and unhealthy teeth, https://www.interdent.com/gentle-dental/resources/10-damaging-effects-of-poor-dental-hygiene-and-unhealthy-teeth/, Accessed Dec 20, 2020
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Written by Excel Dyquiangco Updated Dec 21, 2020
Medically reviewed by Grazielle Millo-Paderes, DDM, MSc