How Bad Oral Health Affects Your Body

While the effects of bad oral health on the teeth and gums are well known, not many are aware of how bad oral hygiene affects the rest of the body. Years ago, physicians that suspected heart disease, diabetes or pregnancy wouldn’t even think of consulting a gum specialist but recent studies have established a link between oral hygiene and the rest of the body.

In this blog, we look at a number of health complications that arise from bad oral health.

Cardiovascular Disease

Periodontal diseases cause considerable damage to the gums and create openings through which bacteria enter the bloodstream. The bacteria eventually reach the heart’s arteries causing them to harden – a disease known as atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis involves a buildup of plaque within the arteries’ inner walls that thicken over time and decrease or block the flow of blood throughout the body. Such a process increases the risk of strokes or heart attack and cause the inner linings of the heart to become inflamed and infected.

Respiratory Infections

Studies have revealed that severe gum disease such as periodontitis could cause lung infections including pneumonia. Prolonged exposure to bacteria that enters the lungs leads to a number of other health complications as well.


The link between gum disease and diabetes is well established. Inflammation in the mouth, as well as periodontal disease, makes it harder for the body to control its blood sugar and makes the diabetes symptoms worse. Peridontitis and diabetes have a two-way relation as high blood sugar create the ideal conditions for gum infections to grow. Fortunately, this connection can be used in the patients’ favor as managing one problem will help control the other.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

People suffering from gum disease are four times more likely to contract rheumatoid arthritis, according to the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society. Both diseases cause inflammation and oral bacteria caused by gingivitis can cause inflammation across different parts of the body.

Pregnancy Complications

It is important for pregnant women to maintain good oral hygiene as hormonal changes make women increasingly susceptible to oral infections. Gingivitis and periodontitis in pregnant women are known contributors to premature births and a host of other pregnancy complications. It also puts the baby’s health at risk in the long term.


Gingivitis can cause bacteria to enter the brain either through the bloodstream or nerve channels found in the head causing Alzheimer’s disease.

Apart from these health complications, bad oral hygiene is also a known contributor to kidney disease, cancer, infertility, and erectile dysfunction. West Hills Smiles are dentists in Woodland, California that provide general, cosmetic, and emergency dentistry services to help patients deal with all sorts of dental problems. Contact us today for more information.