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The Link Between Oral Health And Overall Health

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Oral health and overall health have a strong link, as digestion and respiration channels through your mouth. Harmful bacteria can overwhelm your body without proper oral hygiene. With poor oral health, you may also be unable to digest food properly for the nutrients a healthy body needs.

Several diseases and health conditions have been linked to poor oral health. These health issues generally occur as a result of:

  • Infection: Colonies of bacteria can multiply in your mouth if your oral health is poor. This can lead to infections as well as tooth decay. These infections can lead to more serious health problems once they spread to other parts of your body.
  • Inflammation: Gum inflammation can result from poor oral health. The inflammation can become chronic if untreated and spread to other parts of your body, triggering many health issues.

The specific health problems that can arise from these two triggers include the following.

Cardiovascular Disease

The bacteria that thrive in your mouth because of unchecked gum disease can enter your bloodstream. These bacteria can infect the heart valves. As some researchers suggest, this can possibly result in clogged arteries, heart disease, and stroke.

Alzheimer’s Disease

The progress of Alzheimer’s disease has been linked to worsening oral health. A study indicated that the bacteria that cause gum disease are also linked with the development of dementias like Alzheimer’s.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Research by the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center on 100 patients with rheumatic arthritis showed 70% also suffered from gum disease. This incidence compares with just 35% of the general population. The research suggests that the bacteria causing gum disease can also trigger rheumatoid arthritis.


Oral bacteria promote tissue inflammation, which weakens the ability of your body to control blood sugar. An adverse cyclic condition occurs here, as high blood sugar creates conditions ideal for the growth of oral bacteria. Hence, diabetics, who are more vulnerable to gum disease, find it even harder to control their sugar levels.


Poor oral health increases the risk of respiratory infections like pneumonia. The unchecked bacteria accumulation in your mouth makes it more likely for harmful microbes to enter your lungs.


Cancer risk can increase in several ways because of unchecked oral bacteria growth. The orally transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV), for instance, can cause throat cancer. Bacteria in the mouth can also activate certain genes that can spread or trigger cancer in the body.

Malnutrition and Other Health Issues

Other health conditions that can be linked to poor oral care include eating disorders and malnutrition. Your nutritional intake will be affected by impaired oral health as chewing and digesting food become more difficult. Malnutrition is a likely result, and your immune system and overall health can suffer.

Keeping your oral health in top shape is the bridge to maintaining sound overall health. Progressive Dental & Associates in Matteson, Illinois, delivers oral care services to build your total wellness. You can call 708-980-0110 to book an appointment today.

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