Is a Bad Tooth Bad News for my Overall Health?

Thursday, 3 February 2022
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bad tooth

What is the connection between oral health and overall health?

Like other areas of the body, your mouth teems with bacteria- mostly harmless, but your mouth is the entry point to the rest of your body, particularly your digestive and respiratory tracts, and some of these bacteria can cause disease.

Normally the body’s natural defences and good oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing, keep bacteria under control. However, without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease.

Also, certain medications such as decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers, diuretics, and antidepressants can reduce saliva flow. Saliva washes away food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, helping to protect you from bacteria that multiply and lead to disease.Studies suggest that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with severe gum disease (periodontitis) might play a role in some other diseases.

What conditions can be linked to oral health?

Your oral health might contribute to various diseases and conditions, including:


This infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers or valves typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to certain areas in your heart. Endocarditis is a life-threatening condition.

Pregnancy and Birth Complications.

Periodontitis or Gum Disease has been linked to premature births and low birth weights, adverse pregnancy outcomes and decreased fertility. We often have ladies that are pregnant or trying to get pregnant attend appointments at the request of their Gynecologist/Obstetrician.  These specialists understand the relationship between having a healthy mouth and having a healthier pregnancy.

Cardiovascular Disease.

Although the intricate details of the connection are not fully understood, research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and strokes are probably linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause. People with gum disease are twice as likely to have heart disease. People with severe periodontal disease arethree to four times higher risk for brain stroke.


Certain bacteria in your mouth can be inhaled into your lungs, causing pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.Gum disease can worsen conditions such as COPD and may play a role in the contraction of pneumonia, bronchitis, and emphysema.

Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Patients with RA are eighttimes more likely to have gum disease. Both Rheumatoid Arthritis and gum disease have the same genetic factors and inflammatory biomarkers. Medications that are used to treat RA and other auto-immune diseases drastically reduce the body’s ability to fight infection. This often results in these patients having more frequent and aggressive dental disease.


Certain diseases, such as diabetes can lower the body’s resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe.Gum disease appears to be more frequent and severe among people who have diabetes.Chronic kidney disease and insulin resistance are also closely linked to gum disease.

Regular periodontal/gum care at your hygiene appointments can improve diabetes control.Diabetics are twice as likely to have periodontal/gum disease.


This bone-weakening disease is linked with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss. Certain drugs used to treat osteoporosis carry a small risk of damage to the bones of the jaw, so regular visits to the dentist for examination are recommended. Research suggests that people with gum disease may be at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis.

Alzheimer’s Disease.

Worsening oral health is commonly seen as Alzheimer’s disease progresses. This isn’t surprising, with Alzheimer’s sufferers losing their fine motor skills for oral hygiene, and their food preferences often changing. It is important to ensure those of us with family members that have Alzheimer’s Disease monitor their daily oral hygiene habits and ensure that they continue to attend regular dental appointments.

What is not commonly known, is that there is a strong correlation between periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s Disease.An imbalance in good and bad bacteria in the mouth, as well as the inflammation that occurs in the gums with periodontal disease and gingivitis can be a trigger for Alzheimer’s.


Several studies show strong evidence linking gum disease with an increased risk of gastrointestinal diseases including cancer, as well as oral cancers and pancreatic cancer.

In 2021 in Australia there have been more than 5104 cases of head and neck cancer diagnosed.Oral cancer is more common in men and in older people. In some Asian-Pacific countries, the incidence of oral cancer ranks among the three top cancers. Tobacco, alcohol, and betel nut use are among the leading causes of oral cancer.In North America and Europe, human papillomavirus infections are responsible for a growing percentage of oral cancers among young people. The HPV Vaccine is a simple way to reduce the risk of several types of cancers.

A thorough oral screening is part of your regular hygiene appointment at Grandis Dental. We check for changes to the soft tissues in and around your mouth, very much like your doctor checks to see if any freckles or moles have changed appearance.

Every 5 years an OPG X-ray is taken to screen for lumps and bumps.

Often very small soft tissue changes aren’t detectable to

What can I do to maintain good oral health and reduce risks for other health problems?

Most oral health conditions are largely preventable and can be treated in their early stages.

Tell your dentist about the medications you take and about changes in your overall health, especially if you’ve recently been ill or you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes, any heart conditions, and any auto-immune diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis.

To protect your oral health, practice good oral hygiene daily.

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft manual toothbrush or electric toothbrush, and make sure you are using fluoride toothpaste to reduce cavity risks and quantity of bad oral bacteria
  • Floss daily.
  • Eat a healthy diet and limit food with added sugars.
  • Stay hydrated with frequent sips of water throughout the day to rinse off food particles and maintain a balanced oral pH,
  • Replace your toothbrush every three months or sooner if bristles are splayed or worn.
  • Avoid tobacco use.
  • Schedule regular dental exams and hygiene appointments