Good oral hygiene doesn’t protect just your teeth. Your oral hygiene plays a critical role in your overall health and what happens in your mouth can affect almost every other part of your body. When health professionals look in your mouth, your oral health can show symptoms of serious conditions like heart disease, diabetes and chronic infection. Here’s why good oral hygiene is so important to your well-being.
Health Problems Related to Poor Oral Hygiene
Cardiovascular Disease Periodontal disease causes swollen, inflamed gums. It is one of the most common chronic diseases in the country and it can also enter the bloodstream and cause plaque to build up in the arteries. Because of this, bad oral health can ultimately increase a person’s risk of heart disease.
Plaque buildup can:
- Block blood flow
- Increase your risk of heart attack and stroke
- Cause endocarditis, an often-fatal infection of the heart lining
- Respiratory Infections
Many people are unaware of how much poor oral health can really affect them in regards to their overall health. Infected gums release substances that are toxic to brain cells and cause memory loss. Bacteria from gingivitis has been cited as a contributing factor in cases of Alzheimer’s disease as it has been found traveling to the body’s nerves. If you consistently neglect your teeth and deal with infections often, it’s possible you may be at higher risk for developing dementia.
Though poor oral hygiene won’t cause diabetes, it does make it harder to treat. Gum disease makes blood sugar harder to control, so people with poor oral health have a higher chance of developing diabetes. People with diabetes are also more likely to suffer from oral issues such as infected gums.
Tobacco products are some of the leading causes of poor oral health across the country. This is because they are often full of other dangerous, unhealthy substances such as tar, arsenic, and more. Unfortunately, most tobacco products contain an addictive chemical known as nicotine, causing users to frequently smoke or consume tobacco to settle the craving. Tobacco can cause cancer of the mouth and throat. People who have poor oral health are also more likely to develop pancreatic, blood or kidney cancer.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a genetic disease, but poor oral health can make this already painful disease even worse, since gum disease causes inflammation. People with gingivitis are much more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis. It was also found that one of the main bacteria that causes gum disease may actually play a part in progressing Rheumatoid arthritis faster and making symptoms worse.
Periodontal disease and other oral infections weaken immune systems and affect the kidneys, increasing the risk of disease. Kidney disease can negatively affect multiple bodily parts and their function, from the heart to your bones. If you have kidney disease, you may be more prone to poor oral health, and vice versa. If you have bad oral health, such as gum disease, it may increase your chance of developing kidney disease in the future.
Because a woman’s body is going through so much change during pregnancy, she has to work even harder to keep up with her overall health. With hormonal changes, pregnant women can be more susceptible to the growth and gathering of bacteria which can cause serious infections if they’re not careful. If a pregnant mother has any kind of infection, there are risks that it could possibly affect the child if it is not promptly addressed.
While some people might not understand how having poor oral health can lead to infertility, bad teeth that haven’t been properly taken care of can negatively affect your body in almost every way. For example, poor oral health can lead to gum disease. If a woman develops severe gum disease, it can come along with a variety of long-term health issues that can make trying to conceive much more difficult.
Common Signs of Poor Oral Health
Can bad teeth make you ill? Different dental and mouth issues can not only show poor dental health, but they can also be signs of more serious diseases. Some of the most common signs of poor oral health and other possible ailments include:
Tooth Decay / Discoloration
While slight discoloration of the teeth is normal as you get older, severe discoloration of the teeth is often not a good sign. Discoloration can mean there is a problem, such as tooth decay, that can be causing your mouth and body to have serious issues. If a tooth begins to change color, this is a sign that it has already started to decay on the inside and may be in the final stages.
Bleeding and Inflamed Gums
Swollen and bleeding gums can be the sign of a great deal of different health issues, which is why it’s important to keep up with your oral hygiene. Swelling of the gums can be caused by issues such as infection and bacteria growth, as well as irritation or problems like a broken tooth. If your gums are bleeding, this is not a good sign. Bleeding gums may mean your teeth and gums are becoming damaged by the bacteria present.
Mouth sores, sometimes referred to as mouth ulcers, can occur for multiple reasons. While they may commonly appear after eating too much spicy or sour food, consistent growth of mouth sores in and around your mouth may mean you’re dealing with something more serious. Mouth ulcers can be caused by diseases such as oral cancer.
Everyone has bad breath every now and again, but if you or someone you know are experiencing foul breath, this usually means that there is poor oral health. Without taking proper care of your teeth, plaque and bacteria can build up quickly. This buildup can cause you to have consistently bad breath and also lead to issues such as gum disease.
Swelling of the Mouth, Jaw, or Cheek
Swelling can be a sign of a variety of different oral health issues, depending on where it is and what part of the body may be causing it. Swelling of the jaw or mouth might mean there is a severe infection present in the gums or teeth. It can also be a sign of ailments such as a tooth abscess, tonsillitis, issues with your salivary glands, and more.
How to Prevent Poor Oral Health
Brush and Floss Your Teeth Every Day
Your dentist has been telling you this since you were a child, but don’t forget to floss. Brushing and flossing your teeth every day is essential to keep them clean and prevent potential issues, like plaque buildup, that can become dangerous. Flossing also helps to remove excess food, bacteria, and other substances that can stay caught in between your teeth and cause issues in the future.
Mouthwash use is a must when it comes to the daily routine of cleaning your teeth. After brushing and flossing, giving your mouth a final rinse to rid yourself of any bacteria and extra substances will help keep your teeth feeling clean all day long. When shopping for mouthwash, you want to make sure you use an antibacterial solution to help prevent infections and other oral health issues.
Go the Dentist Consistently
Making sure you go to the dentist on a schedule will help to keep your teeth in great shape. Your dentist will not only be able to clean your teeth, but they can assess their health and determine if there are any issues to be treated. The longer you go without seeing a dentist, the more likely you are to develop an oral health issue.
Whether you find a mouthwash with fluoride in it or a toothpaste, adding a bit extra into your daily routines can help keep your oral health better than ever. Fluoride helps to prevent cavities and tooth decay. It’s commonly found in water supplies across the country and plays a role in dentist’s offices everywhere.
Avoid Smoking and Tobacco Products
Smoking itself is an activity that isn’t good for your overall health or your teeth. Your lungs may be more susceptible to infection when bacteria or other substances find their way to them. Smoking can also cause tooth discoloration and bad breath. Additionally, tobacco products contain a great deal of chemicals that are not healthy for anyone to be inhaling.
Supplements are a great method to help boost your overall oral health. Vitamins and nutrients like vitamin A and calcium are fundamental when it comes to helping your body develop and function in a healthy way. Calcium is also great for your teeth, as it is well-known for assisting with bone health.
Custom Compounded Dental Medications
Your oral health is vital when it comes to keeping you healthy. A compounding pharmacy can provide a wide range of custom dental medications to make it easy to prevent oral-related health issues. Our lineup of compounded dental medications includes:
- Pain relief treatments
- Fluoride treatments
- Topical anesthetics
- Oral sedation
- Mouth rinses
- Anxiety medications for procedures
- And more
find out how we can help you remove the fear and stay on top of your dental health.
*Editor’s Note: This article was originally published September 22, 2017 and has been updated August 24, 2022.
Chief Operating Officer, The Compounding Pharmacy of America
Matthew Poteet, Pharm.D. graduated with Honors from Lee University with a Bachelors of Science in Biological Science. After his undergraduate training, he completed the Doctor of Pharmacy program at Mercer University Southern School of Pharmacy, graduating in 2004. Dr. Poteet has spent much of his pharmacy career on staff at two of the most prestigious academic teaching hospitals in the Southeast; Emory University in Atlanta and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. At these institutions he received extensive experience and training in sterile products compounding.
He returned home to East Tennessee in 2010, where he has held the position of Pharmacy Director at two sterile products pharmacies in Knoxville. Matthew lives in Knoxville with his wife, Chris. Dr. Poteet is Tennessee’s first Board Certified Anti-Aging Pharmacist by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.