How Your Oral Health Is Linked To Your Physical Health

September 1, 2023

Some people avoid the dentist assuming the worst is a cavity or gum inflammation. But due to the oral-systemic connection, the implications of dental neglect may be much broader than you think.

Your oral health is directly connected to your overall health. This link is called the oral-systemic connection.  

Thi Hoang, DDSTheresa Hoang, DDS, and our entire team at Las Positas Family Dental optimize your oral health. Our Livermore, California, dental practice is your go-to place for preventive dentistry as well as advanced periodontics to alleviate infections.  

The problem with oral bacteria

You might not think much about the bacteria around your teeth and gums until it’s time for a dental cleaning. Brushing and flossing thoroughly every day can manage this bacteria, but professional cleanings every six months are necessary to eliminate the buildup. This bacteria can cause issues including cavities and periodontal disease. It’s also a significant risk factor for tooth loss.  

Bacteria can be pathogenic, which means it can cause disease and infection. It can seep under your gums and eventually enter your bloodstream, carrying it to all parts of your body. It can cause infections far from your mouth or systemic diseases like bacteremia (a bloodstream infection). 

Beyond infections

Experts are just beginning to understand the many connections between your oral and overall health.  

Evidence suggests that poor oral health correlates with many serious diseases, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
  • Obesity
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Several types of cancer
  • Liver disease
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Pregnancy complications

While people with periodontal disease are at an increased risk for these diseases and others, gum disease may not directly cause them. Instead, researchers speculate that poor habits like smoking or a high-fat diet could be the actual underlying cause of both periodontal disease and conditions like heart disease, liver disease, and obesity. Their relationship could also be bidirectional, with systemic diseases contributing to poor oral health.  

Staying proactive

Even if the connections between oral health and systemic health aren’t well understood, it’s clear that preventive dental care and proactivity are beneficial. Our dentists at Las Positas Family Dental recommend:

  • Thorough brushing twice a day
  • Flossing once a day
  • Limited sugar in your diet
  • No smoking
  • Limited alcohol
  • Twice-yearly professional cleanings at our office
  • Stopping or changing medications if they cause dry mouth (only after consulting your doctor)

Additionally, you should follow your primary care provider’s instructions to manage chronic illnesses like diabetes, which can adversely affect your oral health without proper care. Managing diabetes lowers your risk of gum disease, and treating existing gum disease can help reduce your blood sugar levels.  

Our team can offer helpful tips on improving your oral hygiene and modifying your routine to accommodate dental restorations.  

Call Las Positas Family Dental or book an appointment online to maintain your oral health with preventive care today.