How close is the link between oral health and general health?

Looking after your teeth with a good dental care regime is vital to maintain good oral health, but did you know it also impacts your overall health? While we often raise the issues of gum disease and tooth decay, there are a huge number of other ways your general health can be affected too if you fail to look after you teeth.

It is understood that poor oral health can be linked to the following conditions:

  1. Heart disease and strokes

Several studies have linked periodontal disease with an increased risk of both of these conditions. It is thought this is due to the inflammation from the disease and bacteria from the mouth – which can contribute to plaque buildup in arteries. In fact, researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry found that people with gum disease were twice as likely as others to die from a heart attack and three times as likely to have a stroke.

  1. Diabetes

People with diabetes have an increased risk of gum disease due to poor blood glucose control. Obviously, maintaining a good oral care regime and visiting your dentist regularly is the best way to defend against such complications.

  1. Premature birth

It is thought that the immune response to diseases such as periodontal disease may trigger early labour.

  1. Respiratory diseases

Bacteria lingering in your mouth and in tooth plaque can find its way to your lungs. Pneumonia or other severe respiratory illnesses may result from this.

In fact, the Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, said the following about the link:

“The link between oral health and overall body health is well documented and backed by robust scientific evidence. Despite this, only one in six people realises that people with gum disease may have an increased risk of stroke or diabetes. And only one in three is aware of the heart disease link.”

The problem is that the mouth is the portal to the rest of the body. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream here and can compromise your immune system – causing inflammation in the mouth along with other diseases.

Speak to your dentist

talk to your dentist

While you may not think it’s necessary to share your general health problems with your dentist, we always recommend you let us know about any changes to your overall health. This is especially relevant if you’re suffering from any of the conditions above, or are pregnant.

It’s also important to tell your dentist about any medicines you are taking. Some medication can affect the ability of the bone to heal – which could lead to infection – so it’s important your dentist is aware of any risk factors right from the start.

Book in for your next dental check up or hygienist appointment today by giving us a call on 01254 297 000. You may also want to consider Denplan, our monthly payment scheme, which covers all your annual dental care costs. We have two packages available, Denplan Essentials and Denplan Care. You can find out more about both of these options, and what they include, on the Denplan section of our website.

Has poor oral health ever impacted on your general health? If so, let us know how by leaving a comment below or tweeting us @APSmilecare