Dental Hygiene: How It Affects Your Overall Health

Dental Hygiene: Disease Connected To Oral Health?

dental hygieneWhile you may brush, floss, and swish for a healthy, bright smile, keeping your teeth and gums healthy also maintains optimal overall health. The mouth itself is a portal to the rest of your body; its health reflects how everything else is going. An increase in inflammatory “bad” bacteria in the mouth often signals infection or illness in other parts of the body. Several diseases link to poor dental hygiene, some of them quite surprising.

Below are various ways that oral health relates to illness and disease in the body.

Heart disease

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is the disease caused by bacterial infection of the gums. Studies link gum disease with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease including stroke and acute myocardial infarction, better known as a heart attack. A 2003 review of studies dealing with periodontal disease found those with it had a 19% increased risk of heart disease. However, the link between the two ailments is not currently clear.

The idea researchers have is that inflammation in the gums causes further inflammation in the cardiovascular system. Another theory is the increase of bacteria in the mouth contributes to plaque buildup in arteries– a 2005 University of Florida study found oral bacteria inside test subjects’ artery plaque.

In science, it is important to distinguish that correlation does not equate to causation. Therefore, we cannot say bad dental hygiene causes heart disease. Poor health habits, like smoking, link to both periodontal and heart disease. Additional factors such as this cloud our ability to draw factual conclusions regarding causation, gum disease, and cardiovascular health.


The United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates more than 29 million Americans have diabetes, and 1 in 4 do not know they have it. That is a total of over 7 million people in the country who do not know they have a life-threatening disease. If you stay on top of your dental hygiene and still find you have gum disease, this may be a sign you have diabetes.

Diabetes impairs blood flow through the body, including in the gums. This leaves your oral tissue vulnerable to bacterial infection. Additionally, influxes in blood sugar levels affect bacterial growth in the mouth’s ecosystem. Maintaining regular dentist visits and checkups can detect diabetes and prevent further complications from the disease.

Respiratory illness

Unsurprisingly, the proximity of your digestive and respiratory systems links conditions between the two. If you have an infection in your mouth or gums, the bacteria may find its way to the lungs if you breathe in the infected plaque. Excess harmful bacteria in the lungs leads to severe respiratory disease like pneumonia and worsen others like emphysema. The risk is even higher for seniors and those with preexisting immunity conditions.

Knee arthritis

In 2012, researchers from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland tracked the passage of bacteria from the mouth to the synovial fluid, the protective fluid around the kneecap. After testing the synovial fluid of 36 people with knee arthritis, the medical scientists found five patients with gum bacteria in the liquid. Two of these five patients demonstrated an exact genetic match to their oral bacteria.

This transfer of harmful bacteria to this critical joint leads to inflammation and exacerbates arthritis in the knees. The connection needs more research; however, the evidence of a relationship between gum disease and arthritis is enough to encourage good dental hygiene in the name of prevention.

Oral health, pregnancy, & fertility

Research suggests periodontal disease in pregnant women links to an increase in premature birth. The link lies in an immune response to infection that aims to protect the fetus, causing early delivery. Furthermore, studies show that women with gum disease have a harder time conceiving than women without it. However, we must again point out that correlation does not equate to causation. Various other factors may link between the two ailments.

Dental Hygiene & Maintenance with Florida Dental Rejuvenation

Your bi-annual dental cleanings are just as important to your overall health and your other medical checkups. Not only can your dentist clean and maintain your teeth for a bright and healthy smile, but they also check for symptoms and signs of other diseases like diabetes. Prevention is worth a pound of cure. Ensure your longevity and quality of life with regular dental hygiene maintenance. Contact Florida Dental Rejuvenation for your next checkup at 561-203-4716.