Oral Health and Overall Health

August 11, 2023

By Dr. Nicole Shen

Our mouths are inhabited by countless microorganisms, some of which are beneficial, while others can cause inflammation and diseases. Research has shown that poor oral health is associated with a range of systemic health conditions. When harmful oral bacteria enter the bloodstream through inflamed gums or oral lesions, they can travel to other parts of the body, potentially causing or exacerbating health problems. Some health issues linked to oral hygiene include:

  1. Cardiovascular Disease: Studies have suggested a connection between periodontitis (gum disease) and an increased risk of heart disease. The inflammation caused by periodontitis can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), increasing the chances of heart attacks and strokes.
  2. Diabetes: Individuals with diabetes are more prone to periodontitis due to impaired blood sugar control. Conversely, untreated gum disease can make diabetes more difficult to manage. Proper oral care can help manage blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of complications.
  3. Respiratory Infections: Bacteria from the mouth can be aspirated into the lungs, leading to respiratory infections, especially in vulnerable populations like the elderly or those with compromised immune systems.
  4. Pregnancy Complications: Pregnant women with periodontitis may have an increased risk of preterm birth and low birth weight. Therefore, maintaining good oral hygiene during pregnancy is essential for both the mother’s and baby’s health.
  5. Dementia and Cognitive Decline: Some research suggests a potential link between poor oral health and an increased risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Chronic inflammation from periodontitis may play a role in this association.

This article was published on 08-11-2023 in The Altamont Enterprise.