How Your Oral Health Affects Your Overall Health

How Your Oral Health Affects Your Overall Health

Having a beautiful smile can do a lot for your confidence. But did you know it might also have an impact on your overall wellness? 

It’s true: Oral health problems like gum disease and cavities can affect your health in lots of ways. Understanding the link between oral diseases and systemic troubles makes it easier to see why regular checkups and dental care are so important — not just for your mouth and smile, but for the rest of your body, too.

Minal Patel, DDS, and the team at Park Place Smiles in Glendora, California, offer comprehensive oral care tailored to each patient’s needs to help them maintain optimal oral health. Let’s look at how your oral health can also affect your overall wellness.

Heart disease

If you have gum disease, you could be at an increased risk of developing heart disease or other cardiovascular problems, like stroke. Although researchers haven’t refined the link between the two, they believe gum disease inflammation causes biological responses that harm the heart and the arteries.

The same bacteria that cause gum disease are present in plaque and tartar. That’s why regular dental checkups and cleanings are so important — not only can these habits prevent gum disease and protect your teeth, but they may also protect your heart and arteries.

Respiratory diseases

Both gum disease and cavities may increase your risk of respiratory diseases — and when you think about it, the link isn’t that surprising. Gum disease and cavities are both caused by germs. When you breathe them in, they can easily be aspirated into your lungs. 

Once in your lungs, the bacteria can cause serious lung conditions, including pneumonia. They can also worsen existing lung conditions, like asthma and COPD. 

Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias

Overall, about 10% of older Americans have some sort of dementia. In addition, nearly 7 million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia. While researchers are still learning about its causes, they know many factors are involved. 

Recent research suggests that gum disease may be one factor. Although they’re not sure why the link exists, they believe it has to do with the inflammatory processes involved in gum disease and how that process affects brain tissue and function.


Plenty of people are surprised to learn that gum disease may also increase the risk of developing certain cancers. One recent, large study that tracked about 150,000 people for an average of more than 20 years found that people with gum disease were 43% more likely to develop esophageal cancer, and 52% were more likely to develop stomach cancer. 

Another study identified a possible link between gum disease and colorectal cancer, one of the most common cancers in the United States. Still, more research suggests a link between gum disease and pancreatic cancer and lung cancer.

Pregnancy complications

If you plan on getting pregnant, having gum disease and cavities treated first could be very important for your baby. The CDC reports that gum disease is associated with pregnancy complications, like low birth weight and premature births. 

The American Dental Association notes that pregnancy can also increase the risk of oral health problems, including both gum disease and cavities. Having regular dental visits during your pregnancy helps reduce the risk of these issues and the potential complications they can cause.

Make oral health a priority

Dental checkups only take about an hour, yet many people avoid the dentist and postpone regular dental care. As a result, they could be leaving themselves open to many serious medical problems. 

Don’t leave your health up to chance. If it’s been a while since your last checkup, or if you have a toothache, bleeding gums, or other unusual symptoms, call 626-226-1802 or book an appointment online with us at Park Place Smiles today.

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