Blog / Dental Health

How Your Oral Hygiene Affects Your Health

May 2, 2016

Dental assistant explaining x-ray to patient in dental chair

We often don’t think about our teeth unless we run into problems like bleeding gums or toothaches, which tend to develop due to poor oral hygiene. However, when we don’t take our oral health seriously, we run the risk of experiencing more than just tooth pain—we also increase our likelihood of developing a number of serious illnesses.

What Is the Relationship Between Your Oral Health and Your Overall Health?

Your mouth is loaded with bacteria, most of which is harmless. However, if you fail to practice good oral hygiene by regularly flossing and brushing, these bacteria can reach levels that may lead to gum disease.

While gum disease might not seem like such a big deal, it is actually a chronic inflammatory condition that can impact other parts of the body.

Which Diseases May Be Linked to Oral Health?

There are many health conditions that are linked to oral health, including:

  • Endocarditis. This is an infection of the heart lining that occurs when bacteria from another part of your body—like your mouth—spreads through the bloodstream and attaches to areas in your heart.
  • Cardiovascular Disease. Research suggests that heart disease and strokes may be linked to the inflammation/infections that oral bacteria can cause.
  • Diabetes. Gum disease is more common and severe in people who have diabetes, and healing is slow to occur. Furthermore, people with gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar.
  • Osteoporosis. Weak, brittle bones may be linked to periodontal bone loss and tooth loss.
  • Alzheimer’s Disease. It is believed that tooth loss before the age of 35 is a possible risk factor for Alzheimer’s.

While these diseases are not always caused by oral health issues, you do increase your likelihood of suffering from these conditions when you ignore your oral well-being.

What Are Signs that Your Oral Health May Be Negatively Impacting Your Overall Health?

If you have signs of gum disease, your oral health may be negatively impacting your overall health. While a dentist can tell you with certainty whether you have gum disease, here are some symptoms to look for at home:

  • Bleeding gums, particularly during brushing or flossing
  • Red, swollen, or tender gums
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Receding gums
  • Shifting or loose teeth
  • Formation of deep pockets between the teeth and gums

If you are experiencing any of these issues currently, we strongly urge you to contact us so we can evaluate your oral health.

How Can I Best Take Care of My Oral Health?

Knowing this information should further encourage you to be proactive about your oral hygiene. The following is what we recommend to ensure you are taking care of your mouth:

  • Brush twice a day for a minimum of 2 minutes each time
  • Floss once daily
  • See your dentist every 6 months
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months so you’re not using a brush with frayed bristles
  • Eat a primarily healthy diet and limit snacking between meals

If you are ready to schedule your bi-annual visit, or have a question or concern about your oral health, request an appointment online by clicking here or call our office at 330.434.3485.