How Overall Health Is Linked to Dental Health

Good oral hygiene offers many benefits; it prevents tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath, and can help keep your teeth healthy enough to last your entire lifetime.  What research also shows, however, is that dental health is linked to our overall health in a variety of ways.  A healthy mouth can actually help prevent certain medical disorders.

When good oral hygiene practices are not followed, it increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.  These can in turn increase the risk for stroke, heart attack, diabetes, and premature labor.  According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, as many as 19% of preterm, low birth weight babies born in the U.S. annually may be attributed to oral infections.

The condition of the mouth often helps dentists and doctors detect early signs and symptoms of diseases that affect the entire body.  AIDS and diabetes, for example, may both become apparent with the development of lesions in the mouth.  The Academy of General Dentistry estimates that more than 90% of all systemic (whole-body) diseases display oral signs and symptoms.

The accumulation of dental plaque inside the mouth creates a host of additional problems.  If allowed to build up along the gumline, it leads to gingivitis, and potentially periodontitis (severe gum disease).  Routine brushing and flossing, for those with diseased gums, can create areas where bacteria can enter the bloodstream.

Chronic gum disease can make diabetes more difficult to control, and can cause infections that lead to insulin resistance.  Bacteria in the mouth that is able to find ways to enter the bloodstream has been found to cause inflammation throughout the body, including in the arteries.  This can cause the development of plaques in the arteries, leading to a heart attack, stroke, or blood clots.  Regular dental visits can help reduce your risk.

For more information about how dental health is linked with overall health, please contact:


Webster Cosmetic Dentistry, Ltd.

1121 Warren Ave., Downers Grove, IL 60515