The Mouth-Body Connection

how dental health affects overall health

The Mouth-Body Connection

People often talk about the mind-body connection, but did you know there is also a mouth-body connection? This means that what is happening in the mouth is connected to what’s happening in the body, and vice versa. Professor Iain Chapple, from the University of Birmingham, said it best: “it’s important to note that oral health isn’t just about teeth. The mouth is the doorway to the body, rather than a separate organ, and is the access point for bacteria to enter the bloodstream via the gums.” At Hicks Dental Group in Prescott, we care not only about your dental health, but your overall health as well, as they are inextricably connected. Here are 5 health issues that show how dental health affects overall health: 

1. Neurological issues 

Research shows that oral diseases are directly correlated with strokes. Harmful bacteria in your mouth can lead to developing blood clots, which can interrupt the blood supply to your brain, preventing brain tissue from getting necessary oxygen and nutrients. Strokes can lead to brain damage or even death. 

Studies have also found that the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease can increase as oral health declines. Researchers in the UK found that the same bacteria that causes periodontal disease was also in the brains of patients who had dementia.

2. Lung infections

As dental plaque builds up in the mouth, it can spread to the lungs when you inhale. This increases your risk for developing respiratory infections like pneumonia and bronchitis. The good news is that simply keeping up with good daily oral hygiene can significantly decrease the risk of respiratory infection.

3. Cardiovascular disease

Poor oral hygiene can increase your risk for developing cardiovascular disease. Scientific research hasn’t concluded exactly why this link exists, but inflammation associated with gum disease may be responsible for the connection. In fact, according to the researchers, “those with periodontal disease are at a 25 percent raised risk of heart disease, thrice the risk of getting diabetes, and 20 percent raised risk of getting high blood pressure.”

4. Pancreatic cancer

Gum disease has been found to increase the risk of pancreatic cancer, which is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the US. Of course there are other risk factors such as genetics that may be out of your control, but taking care of your teeth and gums could help to mitigate the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. 

5. Kidney disease

Research has shown that patients with kidney disease who also have gum disease have a higher chance of dying than those who have healthy gums. 

Daily Oral Hygiene is Key

Now that you’re more aware of the mouth-body connection and how dental health affects overall health, here are some reminders about how to best take care of your oral health in order to keep your whole body healthy: 

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss at least once a day
  • Avoid sodas and sports drinks
  • Swish with water or chew sugar-free gum after eating and drinking
  • See your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings and exams

Contact Us

Many are unaware how dental health affects overall health, and that the health of your mouth can reflect the quality of your overall health. Oral health issues can indicate that there are more serious underlying problems. That’s why we cannot stress enough the importance of coming in every 6 months for a professional cleaning. To learn more about the connection between oral and overall health, visit us at Hicks Dental Group in Prescott! 


Photo by Jonas Verstuyft on Unsplash