How Dental Health Affects Overall Health: The Mouth-Body Connection

Many people don’t recognize the link between your teeth, gums, and the rest of your body. As a dental practice focused on holistic wellness, we’re passionate about educating patients on how dental health affects overall health. Understanding that caring for your oral health is a part of your total health is an important step towards preventing disease down the line and feeling better every day.


You probably take great care to keep up with your regular doctor’s visits, which is excellent! Extending that same attention to your dental visits is equally important. Regular dental check-ups are crucial as they play a significant role in maintaining overall health. In fact, maintaining good oral hygiene can help prevent conditions that are linked to leading health issues, including diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. 

Your dentist can often spot the early stages of an issue before it begins to affect your health, which is just one reason why keeping up with dental hygiene visits is so important. 


Can bad oral hygiene make you sick? The short answer is yes. Consider how the mouth connects to your digestive and respiratory tracts — it’s one of the main entryways to the rest of your body. Without proper oral hygiene, the bacteria in your mouth, both good and bad, could end up in your stomach, lungs, and other organs, potentially leading to various health issues. Regular dental care is essential to prevent these complications and maintain overall health.

Oral health issues such as gum disease and gingivitis also cause inflammation, which makes it difficult for your immune system to fight off other diseases. So, it’s easy to see how dental health affects overall health directly and sometimes seriously. As a part of MR Dental Aesthetic’s ongoing mission to improve the lives of our patients, we want to illuminate the importance of caring for your mouth as a way of caring for your whole self.


The medical community has extensively researched the link between oral health and total wellness in recent years. An overwhelming number of studies have found that there are long-term effects of poor oral hygiene. With nearly half of adults over 30 and 70 percent of those over 65 suffering from gum disease, addressing the relationship between oral health and systemic health has never been more critical. 

It’s time to bust the myth that your mouth and body operate independently and address how oral health is connected to almost all diseases.

Cardiovascular Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US, and poor oral hygiene might play a significant role in its progression. While no study has proven that gum disease causes heart disease, research has shown that those suffering from periodontal disease face a significantly greater risk of having a major cardiovascular event. 

Researchers have also found oral bacteria in the fatty deposits of people who have atherosclerosis, a condition involving plaque buildup in the arteries. Additional studies have shown that bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and heart and pose a risk to those with already vulnerable heart valves. So even if bad oral hygiene doesn’t cause cardiovascular issues, it can aggravate them.


Pregnancy should be one of the happiest times in a woman’s life, but oral health problems can interfere with that joyous event. A combination of hormonal and dietary changes can lead to a buildup of oral bacteria in expecting women. As a result, pregnant women are at a higher risk for gingivitis, an early form of periodontal disease. 

Gingivitis doesn’t only cause discomfort and complications for the mother but can also harm the baby. Some experts believe that bacteria in a mother’s mouth can travel to the developing fetus, causing nutritional issues. Gum disease in pregnant women has been associated with a low birth weight for their babies. 

At MR Dental Aesthetics, we know that good oral hygiene starts in the home. That’s why we also like to educate pregnant women on optimal oral hygiene habits before their babies arrive so that they can pass on these important behaviors to their children.

Respiratory Illness

Respiratory illness can significantly impact one’s quality of life and, in some cases, be life-threatening. Studies have found a correlation between poor oral hygiene and several respiratory illnesses. Experts believe that individuals might inhale bacteria in the mouth, leading to lung infections, including pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is a group of lung diseases, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis, making breathing difficult. 

In those with poor oral hygiene, the teeth can also provide a place for dangerous bacteria to colonize, eventually making their way into the lungs. Damage to the lungs from COPD is irreversible and must be managed with devices like inhalers and steroids. 

Staying on top of oral hygiene can be your first defense to preventing these conditions, significantly impacting one’s well-being.


Mental clarity and a strong memory are integral to our enjoyment of life and necessary for everyday functioning. These traits are foundational to enjoying life thoroughly and enhance our ability to learn, make decisions, and maintain meaningful connections. 

However, Alzheimer’s can significantly damage one’s ability to process and recall new information. Studies have found that periodontal disease could be a root cause of this neurodegenerative disease.

A recent study suggests a potential link between the bacteria responsible for gum disease and the development of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Researchers have found that Porphyromonas gingivalis, a key bacterium in gum disease, can enter the bloodstream and may eventually reach the brain. Additionally, the immune response to this bacterial buildup, including the production of certain antibodies, has been associated with the progression of Alzheimer’s. Although these findings are preliminary, they underscore the importance of good oral hygiene not only for maintaining dental health but also for potentially protecting brain health.


More than 38 million Americans have diabetes, a chronic disease that affects your body’s ability to convert sugar into energy. This condition can also lead to other health issues, like heart disease, nerve damage, hearing and vision loss, and kidney disease. The key to avoiding this progression of problems could be in your mouth.

Several studies have examined the connection between gum disease and diabetes and how one can worsen the other. Having diabetes puts you at a higher risk for gum disease in several ways. First, high blood sugar levels typically correspond with a high sugar count in the saliva. Plaque — a sticky film of bacteria that forms over the teeth and causes gum disease — feeds on sugar. Having diabetes can also lower your immune response, making it difficult for your body to fight gum disease. So, diabetes can not only worsen gum disease, but it can also prevent you from eliminating it. 

While further research is ongoing on the topic, some experts also believe that periodontal bacteria might lead to pre-diabetes. One study found that prolonged exposure to the bacteria that causes gum disease can impact insulin resistance, a precursor for diabetes.


Regarding keeping up with dental hygiene, benefits reach far beyond fresh breath and a bright, white smile. A healthy mouth indicates a healthy body and can prevent harmful bacteria from entering other organs. That’s why it’s essential to be aware of symptoms of poor oral hygiene so you can take action immediately. Below are poor oral hygiene symptoms.

  • Bleeding gums. When plaque remains on the gumline, it hardens into tartar, which can cause bleeding when you floss or brush your teeth.
  • Bad breath. Medically known as halitosis, bad breath can occur when you don’t correctly remove food particles through brushing and flossing. Those particles eventually rot, causing a foul odor. Leftover food particles also give something for bacteria in the mouth to feed on, which can accelerate gum disease.
  • Receding gum lines. Poor oral hygiene can cause the fibers holding your gums in place to deteriorate and pull back, exposing your teeth.
  • Pain when chewing. When gum disease advances, nerves beneath the teeth can become damaged, leading to pain when chewing.
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold foods. When the nerve beneath the tooth is damaged, consuming hot or cold foods can suddenly become painful.

These are just some of the more common signs of poor oral hygiene. If you notice any changes in the appearance of your gums or teeth or new sensations in your mouth, speak to your dentist right away. 


At MR Dental Aesthetics, we want our patients to not only feel good about their smiles but also feel good in their bodies, which is why we’re dedicated to demonstrating how dental health and wellness are inseparable. 

So, can not brushing your teeth make you sick? This is a common question among patients. The truth is it won’t cause any immediate health issues. While skipping teeth brushing is never ideal, your overall habits dictate your oral and total health.

Your at-home habits should be part of a solid preventative dental care routine, like brushing and flossing daily. Lifestyle habits can also significantly impact oral hygiene. There are certain behaviors to avoid to promote better oral hygiene. These include:

  • Smoking. Smoking lowers your immune system, making it harder to fight off gum disease.
  • Grinding your teeth. Teeth grinding puts you at risk for a cracked tooth and damages the connecting tissues around the teeth, which can accelerate periodontal disease. 
  • Drinking sugary drinks. Sugary drinks, particularly soda, can cause damage to the teeth. The acid, carbonation, and sugar wear down tooth enamel, making periodontal disease more likely.
  • Chewing ice. Chewing ice can also lead to tooth decay, increasing the risk of periodontal disease. 
  • Consuming excessive alcohol. Alcohol can cause and accelerate gum disease. Alcohol reduces saliva production, and saliva does the vital job of washing away harmful acids in plaque. Additionally, alcohol lowers your immunity, making it harder to fight off gum disease. 

Following your dentist’s recommended schedule for cleanings is also essential, as your dental hygienist can clean away plaque that brushing and flossing cannot completely remove. Plus, your dentist can recommend remedies for some conditions impacting your oral health, such as mouth guards for teeth grinding. Most importantly, your dentist’s visits are an opportunity for your dentist to spot issues that might require more advanced treatment so you can stop minor problems from becoming serious ones. 

Your dentist is also an ally to your doctor and can identify symptoms of issues already occurring that might require medical attention. Research has shown that major illnesses like anemia, lupus, and Crohn’s disease have oral symptoms. That’s why, in the same way that a caring physician recommends you see specialists like dermatologists or eye doctors, they should recommend you keep up with dental cleanings. Your dentist might identify symptoms your regular doctor didn’t catch. 


At MR Dental Aesthetics, your well-being is our top priority. Dr. Rashti ensures that every cosmetic procedure begins with a thorough assessment of your oral hygiene and health, placing the functionality and health of your mouth at the forefront of your treatment plan. We aim to help you establish lifelong oral hygiene habits, starting with a comprehensive discussion during your first appointment.

Dr. Rashti excels in easing the concerns of even the most anxious patients, guiding you through each procedure with compassion. She will be the only dentist you work with from start to finish, ensuring a quality relationship that supports productive health discussions.

Ready to achieve a beautiful, functional smile that feels great? Book your appointment today. Dr. Rashti, a leading authority in periodontal treatment with decades of experience, uses advanced technologies and innovative techniques to ensure the best and safest patient experience.
We’re dedicated to optimizing both your oral health and overall well-being. Contact us to discover how we can enhance both the health and beauty of your smile!

Scroll to Top