How Does Oral Hygiene Affect Your Overall Health?

June 1, 2020 Lakeshore Dentistry

oral hygiene dentists holland miYou may have heard our dentists in Holland, MI, say that brushing your teeth helps prevent cavities. But did you know that brushing your teeth can also help you avoid gum disease and bone loss in your jaw? Recent research also shows a potential link between poor oral hygiene and conditions like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Our dentists understand the connection between oral hygiene and overall health. This is why they encourage patients to adopt healthy habits and see them at least every six months for preventive dental care.

Here’s how oral hygiene affects your overall health.

The Link Between Periodontitis and Overall Health

Don’t ignore symptoms like bad breath, bleeding gums, and dry mouth. They could be symptoms of a deeper underlying problem. It’s a misconception that oral health issues only affect the mouth. Instead, the body is made up of interconnected systems that affect your overall wellbeing.

Let’s start by explaining how dental plaque affects the rest of your body.

Dental plaque is an invisible film of bacteria that live inside your mouth. These bacteria love to feed on sugar left behind on your teeth and gums. As it consumes sugar, it produces an acid that erodes tooth enamel and attacks your gums.

Over time, gum inflammation (gingivitis) can lead to a permanent condition called periodontitis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 47.2% of Americans age 30 and older have periodontitis. Also, the bacteria in your mouth can spread to other areas of your body.

Recent studies indicate a relationship between the bacteria in dental plaque and cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and preterm birth.

Cardiovascular Disease

Researchers haven’t found a direct cause-and-effect link between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease. But they can agree that there’s a relationship between the two conditions. For example, periodontal disease can worsen existing heart conditions. Many believe this is because inflammation from gum disease also leads to inflammation in other areas of the body.


People with diabetes are more vulnerable to gum infections than people without diabetes. This is because diabetes makes it difficult for the body to supply adequate blood flow to the gums. To make things worse, high blood sugar can also cause dry mouth.

While it may seem weird to think about, saliva serves an essential purpose inside the mouth by rinsing away food particles left on your teeth and gums. This leaves bacteria with little to munch on. However, if you have dry mouth, you’re left with fewer natural defenses against the bacteria in dental plaque. In turn, gum inflammation can make it difficult to control blood sugar.

If you have diabetes and gum disease, it’s essential that you see one of our dentists at least every six months. We may recommend scaling and root planing to remove plaque and tartar buildup.


Hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause women to experience various dental problems. If left untreated, these minor issues can lead to bigger problems such as periodontal disease. There has also been a link found between oral health and preterm birth.

Oral conditions like gum disease take a toll on the whole body and can cause a woman to give birth prematurely. If you notice any oral changes during your pregnancy, call our office as soon as possible to schedule an appointment.

Learn More: Are Teeth Cleanings Safe During Pregnancy? →

Schedule Your Next Teeth Cleaning

Has it been more than six months since your last teeth cleaning and exam? Do you have questions about your oral hygiene for our dentists in Holland, MI? If so, please call the Lakeshore Dentistry & Implant Center at (616) 399-3946. You may also fill out our online contact form and someone from our team will reach out to you soon.

This blog post has been updated.