The Link Between Oral Health and Overall Health

The Link Between Oral Health and Overall Health

by Dr. Inna Chern | April 10th, 2023

Although we tend to focus on the impact that poor oral health can have on your teeth, we don’t always focus on the impact that poor oral health can have on your body. In fact, there’s a direct relationship between keeping your mouth healthy and keeping your whole body healthy. This is just one of the many reasons to practice good oral health habits! Here’s what to know about oral health and the link to your overall health – and what you can do about it.

What’s the Connection Between Oral Health and Overall Health?

Your mouth is the entrance to your digestive and respiratory systems. Although your mouth is normally home to many kinds of good bacteria, it’s still essential to keep bad bacteria away. When infection occurs in the gums or teeth, it can increase the chances that harmful types of bacteria enter the digestive, respiratory, or circulatory systems. Additionally, it’s thought that chronic inflammation associated with gum disease may have a negative effect on your overall health. This can lead to long-term health problems – problems which can, in turn, lower your body’s ability to fight off infections.

What Conditions Can Be Linked to Oral Health?

Oral health and overall health share a bidirectional relationship. This means your oral health can impact your overall health and vice versa.

Conditions Linked to Oral Health

It’s thought that cardiovascular disease may be a chronic condition linked to oral health. This may be connected to the chronic inflammation and bacterial infection associated with gum disease. Additionally, endocarditis (an infection of the tissue linings in the heart) and pneumonia can be caused by bacteria brought on by gum disease. Finally, gum disease has been linked to pregnancy and birth complications like low birth weight and premature birth.

Conditions That Affect Oral Health

Certain conditions can worsen oral health. Diabetes is one chronic condition that can make your body more prone to infections, and gum disease can be more common in people with diabetes. Additionally, osteoporosis is a condition that weakens bone tissue and can make the mouth more susceptible to bone or tooth loss. And finally, eating disorders or conditions and medications that cause dry mouth can increase oral health problems and the chance of infection.

How to Protect Your Oral Health

Maintaining good oral health and overall health requires meeting with your dentist regularly and taking some important steps at home. Here’s a quick checklist for good oral health habits:

  • See your dentist at least every six months
  • Brush twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste
  • Limit sugary foods and drinks
  • Floss daily, preferably at night
  • Avoid tobacco and smoking
  • Eat a healthy, varied diet
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months

Schedule an Appointment

Good oral health is about more than just the way your smile looks. To meet with Dr. Inna Chern and develop a personalized treatment plan for your oral health concerns, contact our Midtown East office by calling or booking an appointment online.

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