How Oral Health Impacts Overall Health

March 7, 2022

If you have ever experienced a toothache, then you know how miserable it can make you feel. What if we told you that even something as common as a toothache could serve as a precursor to various underlying health issues in the body. These health issues include conditions such as cancer, heart diseases, and other chronic health conditions. 

There is an increasing amount of evidence that shows that our oral health can have a major impact on our overall well-being. From impacting our ability to eat and speak properly to increasing our risk for certain diseases. Poor oral health can cause serious health problems in our daily lives. 

So how exactly does our oral health affect our overall health, and what can we do to maintain proper oral health? Let us take a look!

How oral health connects to our overall health

Maintaining proper oral health is more than just brushing and flossing your teeth daily. It involves actively taking care of the gums, tissues, bones, and nerves surrounding your oral cavity. Our mouth houses a lot of bacteria and serves as the entry point for food and various other unwanted microbes. By maintaining proper oral hygiene, we help our immune system keep the levels of these unwanted microbes in check.

These microbes, when in excess amounts, can lead to various oral diseases such as:

  • Dental Cavities (tooth decay)

Cavities are formed when bacteria, acid, and food particles coat the surface of the teeth to form plaque. The acid present in the plaque eats away at the enamel and the underlying connective tissue of the teeth, resulting in permanent damage if left untreated.

  • Periodontal Diseases

Gum diseases or periodontal diseases occur due to poor brushing and flossing habits. These poor habits lead to a high build-up of plaque on the teeth causing the gums to swell up and eventually leading to gingivitis. When gingivitis is left without treatment, it leads to periodontal disease, a more serious condition.

  • Oral Cancers

Tobacco use is one of the biggest causes of oral cancer. These cancerous cells can develop in various parts of the oral cavity, including:

  • Gums
  • Tongue
  • Lips
  • Hard and soft palate
  • Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is a situation where you feel sudden pain or discomfort when your tooth comes in contact with hot or cold substances. This condition occurs as a result of worn-out enamel or an exposed tooth root but can also occur after a tooth filling.

  • Cracked Bones and Teeth

Several situations can cause a tooth to crack, including injury to the mouth, grinding the teeth at night, or chewing extremely hard substances. Regardless of the cause, it is always advisable to see a dentist right away once you notice a cracked tooth.

We have listed some of the diseases that can occur as a result of poor oral health. Unfortunately, the impact of these diseases is felt throughout the body rather than contained in the mouth. Periodontal diseases, for example, are related to various other health conditions such as:

  • Heart diseases
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

However, with all this in mind, the big question is, what are the symptoms of poor oral hygiene, and what can we do to remedy the impacts of these symptoms?

Symptoms of poor oral hygiene

Oral diseases do not just happen overnight. We often overlook the various warning signs because of the trivia attitude we associate with dental hygiene, especially in middle to low-income households. Some of the warning signs that prelude oral diseases include:

  1. Bleeding or swollen gums after brushing or flossing the teeth
  2. Teeth sensitivity to hot or cold temperature foods and fluids
  3. Toothache
  4. Loose teeth
  5. Receding gums
  6. Frequent dry mouth

Most of the above symptoms occur as a result of various activities which seem to be harmless at the time of engagement. Of the numerous activities that lead to poor oral hygiene, we have outlined some of the leading causes below including:

  • Inadequate exposure to fluoride in water and toothpaste
  • High sugar intake 
  • Use of tobacco and alcohol
  • Lack of access to oral health care services

Continuous neglect and repeated performance of the above activities can lead to various oral diseases, which serve as underlying conditions for other chronic health problems. Nonetheless, by maintaining proper oral hygiene, you can quickly remedy the situation before it gets out of hand!

How to maintain proper oral health

There are certain steps you can take daily to maintain good oral hygiene and improve your overall health condition. These steps can be as simple as:

  • Using a fluoride-based toothpaste to brush twice every day
  • Flossing regularly after meals and after brushing
  • Using mouthwash to rinse and remove particles of food and dirt that may be stuck to your teeth
  • Eating a health mix of fruits and vegetables while maintaining low sugar intake
  • Replacing your toothbrush regularly every 3 to 4 months or once the bristles get worn out.
  • Scheduling and making periodic visits with your dentist 
  • Eliminating the use of alcohol and tobacco 

Regardless of the state of your oral health, integrating the above steps into your daily activities will help you maintain the proper oral hygiene necessary for a healthy lifestyle.


Proper oral hygiene is critical for maintaining overall health. Symptoms of poor oral hygiene include cavities, gum disease, and bad breath, which can lead to other chronic health problems. By applying the tips in this blog post, you can maintain proper oral health and improve your overall health condition.

Nevertheless, if you have any questions or concerns about your oral health, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We would love to hear from you and answer any questions you might have!

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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