It has been said that the mouth is a window to your overall health. You may be surprised about how much influence oral health has on the rest of your body. Here’s why oral health is so important.
How Does Oral Health Affect Overall Health?
Oral health is so much more than having white teeth. After all, the mouth is a key part of the digestive system. Research demonstrates that if there is inflammation in the mouth, that inflammation may make its way to other parts of the body.
Studies indicate that poor oral health is not good for the brain,1 heart,2 gastrointestinal system,3 immune system,4 and more. As it turns out, the plaque on teeth can influence the plaque in the arteries. In fact, it is estimated that people with gum disease have a much higher risk of having heart problems.5 Gum disease is also linked to a higher risk of brain function issues as well.6 And people with gum disease may also be at risk of having high blood sugar levels.7
That’s why oral hygiene habits are so important.
Dental Care Recommendations
Good oral hygiene habits begin with brushing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that teeth be brushed thoroughly twice a day and that flossing between teeth should also be done daily to help remove plaque buildup.
The American Dental Association also recommends eating a healthy diet that limits sugary beverages and snacks, as well as seeing a dentist regularly for proactive prevention of gum disease and cavities.8
Regarding sugar, the CDC recommends that people consume less than 10% of their total daily calories from added sugar. That means for a person consuming 2,000 calories a day, one soda puts them at their max because soda contains about 10 teaspoons of added sugar. The CDC reports that three in five Americans are exceeding their recommendation.9 The CDC also states that tobacco products and alcoholic drinks can negatively impact oral health.
By following these oral health guidelines, you will not only keep your mouth fresh and healthy, but you’ll also be positively influencing your overall health as well.
Rivier CA, Renedo D, de Havenon A, et al. Poor Oral Health Is Associated with Worse Brain Imaging Profiles. Preprint. medRxiv. 2023;2023.03.18.23287435. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10055602/?report=reader
Sayols-Balxeras S, Dekkers KF, Baldanzi G, et al. Streptococcus species abundance in the gut is linked to subclinical coronary atherosclerosis in 8973 participants from the SCAPIS cohort. Circulation. 2023;148:459-472. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.123.063914
Vasovic M, Gajovic N, Brajkovic D, Jovanovic M, Zdravkovaic N, Kanjevac T. The relationship between the immune system and oral manifestations of inflammatory bowel disease: a review. Cent Eur J Immunol. 2016;41(3):302-310. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5099388/?report=reader
Senel S. An overview of physical, microbiological and immune barriers of oral mucosa. Int J Mol Sci. 2021;22(15). https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/22/15/7821
Harvard Health Publishing. Gum disease and heart disease: the common thread. 2021;Feb 15. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/gum-disease-and-heart-disease-the-common-thread
Matsushita K, Yamada-Furukawa M, Kurosawa M, Shikama Y. Periodontal Disease and Periodontal Disease-Related Bacteria Involved in the Pathogenesis of Alzheimer's Disease. J Inflamm Res. 2020;13:275-283. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7335281/?report=reader
No author listed. Gum disease can raise blood sugar levels. The Journal of the American Dental Association. 2013;144(7). https://jada.ada.org/article/S0002-8177(14)60555-9/fulltext#articleInformation
American Dental Association. Home oral care. Accessed 2023, Sept. https://www.ada.org/en/resources/research/science-and-research-institute/oral-health-topics/home-care
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Be sugar smart: limiting added sugars can improve health. Accessed 2023, Sept. https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/data-statistics/be-sugar-smart.html