How Oral Health Affects the Rest of You

Toothpaste in the shape of a question mark with text "How are oral health & overall health connected?"

Your oral health affects the rest of you, so the question is – Are you doing enough to maintain wellness?

Doctors have found that there’s a connection between oral health and overall health, also known as oral-systemic health.

And at Avalon Family Dentistry in Federal Way, WA, we want to remind you of the importance of comprehensive and preventative care from your local dentist.

Toothpaste in the shape of a question mark with text "How are oral health & overall health connected?"

How does oral health affect the rest of your body?

It’s no surprise that a healthy mouth is important, but just how much it affects other parts of your body may shock you!

The body is one super-smart, complex, and connected being, with trillions of cells working simultaneously every day. One part of the body can affect others, so it makes sense the mouth plays such an important role in general health and well-being.

Good oral health can help keep your gums and teeth healthy (now and as you get older), while preventing tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath. But it doesn’t end there.

Beware of oral health problems!

When harmful bacteria are present in the mouth, they can reach other parts of the body and wreak havoc. Alternatively, many illnesses have symptoms that first show in the mouth and give clues that something isn’t quite right.

According to the Academy of General DentistryOpens in new window for website by Academy of General Dentistry:

“Research shows more than 90 percent of all systemic disease including heart disease have oral symptoms.”

Systemic diseases are illnesses that affect more than one part of the body and can even affect the whole body. Examples include:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Bacterial pneumonia
  • HIV / AIDS

So if you notice any unsettling signs in the mouth, don’t ignore them!

What are visible signs of oral health problems?

Easy to spot signs of oral health problems include:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Swollen gums
  • Deteriorating gums
  • Shifting teeth
  • Painful gums or teeth
  • Reduction in saliva
  • Changes in tongue color or texture
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Signs of infection
  • Growths in mouth
  • Family history of periodontal disease

If you notice the above signs, please schedule a check-up at our dental office in Federal Way, WA. Click here to schedule.

Which types of health conditions are linked to oral health?

Oral health can be linked to the following conditions and diseases:

Cardiovascular disease – This includes heart disease, clogged arteries, and stroke. Doctors believe that various heart problems can occur from infection and inflammation caused by bacteria that start in the mouth. While there are many other causes of heart disease, this is one cause you can control with proper oral care.

Endocarditis – This is a rare but life-threatening infection of the heart’s chamber and valve inner lining. The condition is typically caused by bacteria that enter through the mouth and spread through the bloodstream. The bacteria may enter into the bloodstream through broken, bleeding gums.

People who are at the highest risk for endocarditis have a heart defect, damaged heart valves, or artificial heart valves. While people with a healthy heart have a lower risk of infection, it’s still possible.

Pneumonia – Certain types of bacteria that enter through the lungs can cause pneumonia, along with other respiratory problems. In addition to increasing the risk of pneumonia, harmful bacteria in the mouth caused by poor dental hygiene, can reach the lungs and cause other long-term breathing problems.

Pregnancy problems and birth issues – Periodontitis, a serious mouth infection, has been linked to complications during pregnancy and birth, including premature birth. If an expecting mother has gums that are broken and bleeding, this gives bacteria easy access to other parts of the body. During pregnancy, this can put both the mother and child at risk.

How does oral health affect mental health?

Beyond physical health, a huge part of a person’s well-being is his or her mental wellness. And it turns out mental health is also affected by oral health in many ways.

We all know a person’s self-esteem and confidence can be greatly affected by the appearance of his or her teeth.

But did you know that oral health has been tied to anxiety and depression?

According to Psychology TodayOpens in new window for Psychology Today website:

“Generalized inflammation in the body can trigger depression, and is associated with poor mental health. Treating inflammatory conditions such as gum disease reduces the inflammatory load on the body. So yes, dental treatment might help improve depression and general mental health.”

A family brushing their teeth with text over image: "Build healthy habits for the whole family!"

What are the best ways to maintain good oral health?

Healthy dental habits at home, along with routine dentist visits, can ensure your mouth is healthy. A healthy mouth promotes a healthy body, so be sure to do the following each day:

Remember – A healthy mouth leads to a healthy body!

Maintain good overall health with good oral health!

If you’re overdue for a cleaning and exam at the dentist, then now is the time to schedule. Your teeth are so much more than a beautiful smile. They affect just about every aspect of your life.

From physical health to mental health, a healthy mouth gives you a better chance of maintaining wellness. Click to schedule your visit to the dentist in Federal Way, WA – serving surrounding communities, including Des Moines, Tacoma, Auburn, and Kent.


The content in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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