The Connection Between Oral Health and Overall Health


We often think of oral health and wider health as being separate issues. When we talk about oral health, the focus is often on keeping your teeth free from decay and staining. The impact on wider health is rarely discussed.

You may be surprised to learn the many ways in which your oral health can impact your wider health. Bacteria build up in your mouth can lead to widespread health problems, including heart conditions and respiratory problems. And something as simple as a poorly aligned bite could lead to lifelong nutritional issues.

In this guide, we’ll look at the most common health conditions that are directly impacted by your oral health, starting with…

Cardiovascular health

Research suggests a significant link between gum disease (periodontitis) and cardiovascular health. Periodontal disease is characterised by chronic inflammation and bacterial infection of the gums and supporting structures of the teeth.

The same plaque that appears on your teeth can enter the bloodstream where it accumulates in the arteries. This can contribute to the development or exacerbation of cardiovascular conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).



Individuals with diabetes are more susceptible to gum disease, and gum disease, in turn, can make it more challenging to manage diabetes. The two conditions have a bidirectional relationship, with gum disease exacerbating diabetes-related complications and poorly controlled diabetes increasing the risk and severity of gum disease.

Maintaining good oral hygiene and controlling blood sugar levels are essential for managing both conditions effectively. If you suffer from gestational diabetes during pregnancy, you also have an increased risk of developing gum disease, which is why regular trips to the dentist are so important.

Respiratory health

Poor oral health has been linked to respiratory infections and conditions such as pneumonia. Bacteria from the mouth can be aspirated into the lungs, particularly in individuals with compromised immune systems or underlying respiratory conditions.

By reducing the presence of oral bacteria through proper oral hygiene practices and regular dental care, the risk of respiratory infections may be reduced. Brushing and flossing twice a day is an essential part of safeguarding your oral health.

Pregnancy complications

Pregnancy complications

Pregnant women with gum disease may be at increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, including preterm birth and low birth weight. The inflammatory response associated with gum disease can trigger systemic inflammation, potentially impacting foetal development and pregnancy outcomes.

Maintaining optimal oral health during pregnancy through regular dental check-ups and proper oral hygiene is crucial for the wellbeing of both the mother and the baby. While you might struggle to see the dentist in your third trimester, you should make sure you visit the dentist as soon as you find out you are pregnant to ensure your oral health is a priority.

Cognitive function

Emerging evidence suggests a potential link between oral health and cognitive function in older adults. Chronic gum inflammation has been associated with cognitive decline and an increased risk of conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.

While the exact mechanisms underlying this connection are still being investigated, reducing inflammation and maintaining good oral hygiene may help support cognitive health as individuals age.



The ability to chew food effectively is essential for proper nutrition and overall health. Dental issues such as missing teeth, misaligned teeth, tooth decay, or poorly fitting dentures can impair chewing function and impact dietary choices.

If you struggle to chew food properly, this might limit your food choices and cause you to avoid certain food groups entirely. Inadequate nutrition, in turn, can contribute to poor oral health, creating a cycle of decline.

Maintaining a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients and seeking prompt dental treatment for any oral health concerns are vital for supporting overall health and well-being.

Another common issue related to oral health and nutrition originates from a poorly aligned bite. If you are unable to chew your food properly, you might struggle with digestive issues as your stomach will have to work harder to break down large food particles. This might lead to stomach aches, and could also impact your ability to absorb nutrients from food.

Closing thoughts

The connection between oral health and overall health is undeniable, with implications that extend far beyond the confines of the mouth. By recognising the interplay between oral health and systemic conditions, individuals can take proactive steps to prioritise dental care as an integral component of their overall health maintenance regimen.

Practising good oral hygiene, scheduling regular dental check-ups, and addressing oral health issues promptly are essential for promoting not only a healthy smile but also a healthy body and mind. Embracing a holistic approach to health that encompasses both oral and systemic well-being can contribute to a higher quality of life and improved overall health outcomes.

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