How Important is Oral Hygiene To Overall Health?

Forest Smiles – The Best Dentist in Lynchburg, VA

Not having good oral hygiene doesn’t just cause problems with your teeth and mouth, but can also lead to problems with your overall health including cardiovascular disease, pregnancy, and diabetes.  Read on to learn the link between oral hygiene and these diseases.


Mouth Health and Overall Health – The Missing Link


Scientists have attributed much research to the mouth/body connection and how oral hygiene affects disease of certain types.  Think about this: your mouth is the body’s link to the outside world.  All the food you eat and every breath you take come through the mouth.  So, why not look at that link to help us better understand diseases?


Bad oral hygiene creates the buildup of plaque and bacteria.  When there is an excess of bacteria the teeth and gums become more prone to infection.  TO combat this, the body’s immune system sends in white blood cells to fight the infection causing inflammation and gum disease.  This inflammation plays a major role in helping certain diseases flourish.   Below are three examples of diseases in which we will examine the role bad oral hygiene directly affects.


Cardiovascular Disease/Heart Disease


There is a definite correlation between cardiovascular/heart disease and gum disease. A little over 90% of patients with gum disease also suffer from heart disease.  Scientists speculate that inflammation of the mouth also causes inflammation in the blood vessels.  Inflamed blood vessels constrict blood flow to your vital organs leading to heart attacks and raising blood pressure.  Heart disease is one of the leading causes of deaths in the world.


Pregnancy and Birth Defects


Gum disease and bad oral hygiene may have correlation with babies being born prematurely or at a low birth weight.  As we know with our example for heart disease, inflamed blood vessels constrict blood flow, and blood flow is essential to a fetus’ development.  Hormonal changes during pregnancy can increase your risk of gum disease and inflammation and you should consult with your dentist for a complete periodontal exam to ensure your baby is safe.




Inflammation in the mouth resulting from bad oral hygiene inhibits the body from controlling blood sugar.   Unregulated blood sugar oftentimes decreases the production of insulin, the hormone that changes sugar into energy.  Gum disease and diabetes go hand in hand in that a high blood sugar can foster the growth of infection, and infection fosters the prevalence of diabetes.


The best way to maintain your oral health and your overall health is to make sure that these diseases never have the chance to grow in the first place.  Having good oral hygiene will help to prevent these issues from arising.  Consult with your local dentist on preventative measures.  Practice good oral hygiene at home by brushing and flossing regularly, decreasing your consumption of sweets, and not smoking.