How Your Oral Health Impacts Your Overall Health (And Vice Versa)
How Your Oral Health Impacts Your Overall Health (And Vice Versa) Blog Image

How Your Oral Health Impacts Your Overall Health (And Vice Versa)

Why do you take care of your teeth?

If you’re like a lot of people, you want to avoid pain, the need for dental work, and even bad breath. Plus, you want to have a healthy-looking smile that you don’t feel the need to hide.

But there are several other reasons why taking care of your oral health is important.

The main reason is that the quality of your oral health impacts your overall health – and vice versa.

Today, we’ll examine the connections between your teeth, gums, and general health. And we’ll share tips from your Whittier dentist to help improve your oral health.

Does Your Oral Health Really Impact Your Overall Health?

The level of your oral health can impact various systems of your body, including your respiratory and circulatory systems.

Can Dental Decay Ruin Your Health?

Dental decay is caused by bacteria and the acids they release that damage the enamel. Over time, when left untreated, dental decay can reach the tooth’s pulp (nerve) and cause a bacterial infection.

A tooth infection can lead to the need for root canal treatment and can also result in tooth loss. It can even cause bone loss as the infection eats away at the healthy bone surrounding the roots of your teeth.

But dental decay doesn’t just impact your oral health – it can also impact your overall health .

Ongoing infections can cause fever and increase inflammation throughout your body. Excess inflammation can damage the heart and lead to heart disease and even a heart attack.

The bacteria from the infection can also travel through the bloodstream and attack weak areas of the body, including:

Infections can even spread to the brain and become life-threatening.

Because of the danger of dental infections, your Whittier dentist recommends regular dental check-ups. The earlier we can find dental decay, the easier it is to treat and the less likely it is to develop into a dental infection.

Does TMJ Disorder Affect Your Overall Health?

TMJ disorder is a disorder of the temporomandibular jaw joints, the joints that create a hinge between your upper and lower jawbones.

The disorder is caused by:

Patients who have TMJ disorder can experience:

Untreated TMJ disorder can lead to difficulty chewing and swallowing – especially hard, crunchy foods. Unfortunately, many nutrient-dense foods – like fresh, raw fruits and vegetables – tend to be hard and crunchy. Many people with this disorder have a hard time eating these foods.

Those who try to eat these, and other nutrient-dense foods have difficulty thoroughly chewing them. The result is a lack of proper digestion , making it difficult to absorb nutrients and even leading to malnutrition.

What Is the Connection Between Gum (Periodontal) Disease and General Health?

Gum disease is caused by bacteria beneath and around the gum line. When bacteria-laden plaque and tartar aren’t removed regularly, they can cause gum inflammation and irritation. Eventually, this can result in gum infection.

Inflammation and infection of the gums can result in dental pain and tooth loss. It can also lead to serious general health issues.

Heart Disease

Any inflammation in the body can damage the heart, increasing the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.


Inflammation from periodontal disease raises blood sugar levels . Because of this, patients with gum disease are at a higher risk of developing diabetes. And those who already have diabetes find it challenging to control their blood glucose levels.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory autoimmune disease. Researchers have found that the disease might not start in the joints. Instead, the likely culprits are autoantibodies, antibodies that react to your body instead of diseases.

Oral microbes (as well as those in the gut), particularly P. gingivalis, can create autoantibodies because they contain an enzyme that can change proteins in the body. The autoantibodies can attack the lining of the joints.

Gum disease causes inflammation and infection. The bacteria from the infection can travel through the bloodstream and to the joints, increasing the risk and severity of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

Respiratory Disorders

Another way oral health impacts overall health is by causing respiratory disorders . Within your mouth is a unique and complex micro-ecosystem comprising the oral microbiome and unique anatomical structures.

The bacteria in your mouth run rampant when you experience oral diseases, such as decay and inflammation. The bacteria, in turn, adversely impact the health of your delicate lung tissue.

Bacteria – as well as the inflammation caused by oral diseases – can lead to the development of:

How Does Your General Health Affect Your Oral Health?

Inflammation and bacteria in other areas of the body can adversely impact your oral health .

For example, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and gum disease have two bacteria in common: P. gingivalis and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans (Aa). These bacteria cause inflammation, causing the painful symptoms of RA and triggering gum disease.

Additionally, patients with diabetes, certain genetic conditions, and a weak immune system can experience higher incidences of:

Even the changes women experience due to pregnancy can increase their risk of dental decay and gum disease.

Your Whittier Dentist Cares About Every Aspect of Your Health

Your dental team cares about whether you develop dental decay or gum disease. But did you know they’re just as concerned about your overall health?

Your Whittier dentist wants you to look and feel great for a lifetime. To achieve that goal, taking care of your oral and general health is imperative.

And we can help! With regular preventative cleanings and check-ups, we’ll monitor your oral health. These appointments allow us to catch issues early or prevent them altogether.

If you’re ready for better health, contact our team to set up a new patient exam today!

Has it been a while since your last dental check-up? Contact Dentists of Whittier using our online contact form or call 562-414-5025 to schedule an appointment.


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