The Link Between Systemic and Oral Health

What if we told you that simply by visiting your dentist for your normal, bi-annual checkups that you could better maintain and improve your quality of life? Would you go?

Your Mouth, The Gateway to Your Body

The unfortunate truth is that the link between oral health and systemic health has been devastatingly ignored. To help you better understand this association, the following have all be linked to improper oral health maintenance: Diabetes, sleep apnea, cancer, stroke, dementia, cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, coronary heart disease, infective endocarditis, pregnancy complications and more. According to the Surgeon General’s report, “Oral health is essential to general health and well-being.” (1) However, because of this lack of understanding, there has been a decrease in quality of life and life expectancy as well as an increase in debt and overall internal and external stress contributing to devastating losses in overall physical, emotional, financial and social burdens. (2,3)

Bacteria And How It Spreads

Periodontal Disease is a chronic infection that produces a local and systemic host inflammatory response and is a source of bacteremia. (4) The presence of bacteria in the bloodstream (Bacteremia) is a common occurrence in those with periodontitis because the epithelial lining of the soft tissue wall of the pocket becomes ulcerated which allows easy access for bacteria to enter into the bloodstream. Healthy gums do not bleed under normal stimuli such as eating or brushing. If they do, consult your oral healthcare professional because it may indicate an underlying gum disease. (5) If bacteria enters the bloodstream and goes to the brain, it can cause cognitive problems such as dementia or stroke. If bacteria enters the bloodstream and goes to the heart and the body it can cause systemic problems such as infective endocarditis, coronary heart disease, COPD and pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia. According to the Journal of Periodontology, a study was completed that proved there to be a 2x greater risk of inflammatory factors contributing to atherosclerosis and the resultant coronary heart disease, stroke and heart attack in patients who have gum disease. (6) Other studies done have also shown that those with periodontal disease can increase their risk for developing cardiovascular disease by about 20%. (7)

Start Improving Your Health Today!

We have great news for you however, the solutions are easy! Systemic health can be maintained and gum disease can be prevented through twice daily brushing, flossing and regular dental visits to your dentist and dental hygienist. (8) Just remember, uncontrolled oral health can contribute to uncontrolled systemic health, and (vice versa) uncontrolled systemic health can lead to oral health complications.

More questions about how you can keep your mouth healthy? Call our office at (615) 221-8837 or click here to send us a message!



2. MC Hollister, “The association of oral status with systemic health, quality of life, and economic productivity”, 2014


4. Raul I Garcia, “Periodontology 2000”, 2001

5. Darby, “Dental Hygiene Theory and Practice”, 2010

6. Bruno Loos, “Journal of Periodontology” 2014

7. International & American Associations for Dental Research, “Oral Health, Atherosclerosis, and Cardiovascular Disease” 2014

8. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, “Gum Diseases”, 201


Contributing editor: Mariah Leaman, RDH

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