Dental Health and Overall Health

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Children’s Dental Alert!

You have a pretty good idea of what it means to stay healthy. At least at the intellectual level, you know what you need to do. Your parents told you not to live on candy and soda, and to wear sunscreen. Your teachers told you not to eat too much junk food and to get plenty of sleep. Your doctor has told you to watch the cholesterol, exercise more, and not smoke. And all those commercials have told you to way too many things about eating healthier! Eat plenty of vegetables. Keep the sugar under control. Eat organic. Don’t drink so much. Take these vitamins.

The list goes on about things we know to maintain our overall health.

Now, whether we all actually do these things is another matter! But, the point is, we have an idea about how to stay healthy, overall. We know how to maintain general health.

But, there’s another element that you probably didn’t think of.

Did you know that your oral health affects your overall health? Who thought that the state of your teeth could be a factor?

According to the Mayo Clinic, there’s a close relationship between dental health and your overall health.

They say that our oral health could in fact contribute to various diseases and conditions, such as:

Endocarditis. This scary-sounding word actually is. It’s an infection of the inner lining of your heart (the endocardium). Endocarditis usually happens when bacteria or germs from some other part of the body travels via the bloodstream and then attach to damaged areas in the heart. And where might these bacteria come from? That’s right: your mouth. Normally bacteria in your mouth doesn’t enter your bloodstream. But if you have gum disease (resulting in bleeding gums), that’s an open door for the bacteria to step right in and take a ride. And if your immune system is weak, that bacteria in your bloodstream survives the journey and may cause an infection in another part of your body. In this case, damaged heart valves.

Research has also shown a possible association between oral infections and poorly controlled diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and premature birth.

Diabetes. People who have chronic gum disease, especially, have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels. Therefore, regular periodontal care can improve control of your diabetes.

Cardiovascular disease. Apparently heart disease, clogged arteries, and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections caused by oral bacteria.

Premature birth. Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that as many as 18% of preterm, low birth-weight babies born in the United States each year may be attributed to oral infections. That’s huge.

Such are some of the ways that our mouths, and how healthy we’re keeping them, affect the rest of our bodies. It’s sobering to realize such a small part of your body can cause such big trouble.

But the effects go the other direction, as well. According to the Mayo Clinic, your overall health might affect your oral health, including:

Diabetes. Diabetes reduces your body’s resistance to infection. Naturally, this would compromise the resistance of your mouth, putting your gums at risk. Gum disease appears to be more frequent and severe among people who have diabetes.

HIV/AIDS. Oral problems, such as painful mucosal lesions, are common in people who have HIV/AIDS. Actually, HIV may first become apparent as lesions or other oral problems. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, more than 90% of all systemic diseases produce oral signs and symptoms.

Osteoporosis. That condition where your bones are weak and brittle might be linked with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss. Drugs used to treat osteoporosis carry a small risk of damaging jawbones, too.

Alzheimer’s disease. Worsening oral health is prevalent as Alzheimer’s disease progresses.

It seems there’s a reciprocal relationship between the mouth and the rest of the body. After thinking on that for a minute, it should make sense. Your mouth doesn’t exist in isolation. Rather, it is part of the whole. How much you care for, or neglect, your oral health will affect the health of your body. Just as weakening general health could result in poor oral health.

The Mayo Clinic adds a few other conditions that might be linked to oral hygiene: eating disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, head and neck cancers, and Sjogren’s [pronounced shœ̅-ˌgren(z)] syndrome (an immune system disorder that causes dry mouth).

Who knew that oral health was so vital! It’s not just something tangental, or something of low importance. It’s connected to how the rest of your body is doing. That’s even more incentive to maintain good dental hygiene for yourself and your family.

To invest in your oral health is to invest in your overall health.

Do you have any experience of poor oral health having negative effects on your overall health? Come share and join the discussion at our Facebook page.

You can learn more from USA Children’s Foundation

Why should you trust or listen to us? We are a unique and to our knowledge the only national children’s dental foundation of our kind. We are a 501(c)(3), a non-profit, run exclusively by the parents, for the benefit of the children.

For more valuable information, give us your best email address to receive free, no obligation videos to protect and care for your children. Go to (if you have not already)


Oral health: A window to your overall health

Oral Health and Overall Health: Why A Healthy Mouth Is Good for Your Body

What Is the Relationship Between Oral Health and General Health and Well-being?

Linkages with General Health

Future Articles:

  • 2 Steps to Get Your Child Flossing
  • Ask the Dentist to Explain
  • Who Owns Your Pediatric Dentist?
  • Don’t Lie to the Dentist
  • Children’s dental disease connection with Respiratory Disease
  • Children’s dental disease connection with Heart Disease
  • Children’s dental disease connection with Osteoporosis
  • Mom’s dental disease connection with premature birth

If you have concerns, from how to find a dentist, how to know when to get a second opinion, how dental disease affects your children’s health, please submit a request via comment or email.

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