How Oral Health Affects General Health

If you’ve kept up with our blogs here at Pacific Northwest Periodontics, you know that we’ve talked a lot about the importance of maintaining your oral health, because your ability to speak, chew, and have a great smile has a huge impact on your life. Not to mention all the pain and frustration that comes along with cavities, gum disease, and periodontal disease. However, one thing we haven’t talked much about is the effect of oral health on the rest of the body.

When we think of health conditions, oral health issues in particular, it’s tempting to think of them as a localized concern — and they certainly are. However, there’s always the question, “how does this impact my overall health?” This is the question we’re going to tackle today, so keep reading to learn more.

What’s the connection?

Bacteria isn’t just something that’s found on a toilet seat or a door handle at work; your body is covered in bacteria — inside and out. Your mouth, in particular, has millions of bacteria at any given time and without brushing and flossing regularly, your immune system will have trouble keeping them under control. This will inevitably lead to infections, tooth decay, and gum disease.

But the problems don’t stop in the roots of your teeth. Inflammation caused by oral diseases may also increase your chances of having a systemic disease or worsen ones that are already present. Let’s take a look at several different systemic diseases to see how they may be caused by oral health issues.


Septicemia is one of the main complications that arise from oral health conditions and is in some way related to each one of the following systemic conditions we’ll discuss. This is a severe infection that can develop in any part of the body. It is known to causes serious damage to just about any part of your body but specifically to the lungs, brain, and kidneys. In a worst-case scenario, it can even lead to organ failure and death. Septicemia often occurs in people with cancer, diabetes, or AIDS because their immune systems aren’t suited to fight off the infection before it becomes dangerous.

The culprits of periodontal issues are called anaerobic bacteria or anaerobes. After entering the bloodstream, you’ll quickly develop septicemia. So, it’s important to maintain proper oral hygiene to avoid this type of infection.

Heart Disease

According to the Cleveland Clinic, there may be a link between heart disease and periodontal disease. Some of the bacteria that are present in the mouth during the development of periodontitis will make it into the bloodstream. In turn, this results in an increase in C-relative proteins that lead to inflammation and cardiovascular disease. As a result, the risk of heart disease and strokes increases.

In the case of gum disease, swollen gums are the main symptom. However, with periodontitis, there is a more serious threat of the infection entering the bloodstream and making its way to the heart. Many oral health specialists believe that preventing periodontitis and maintaining great oral hygiene will reduce bacteria in the heart, thus reducing your risk of heart disease.


In our last blog, we talked about oral health care for diabetics and how it differs from non-diabetics. Diabetes is one of the major systemic diseases that’s linked to oral health. The biggest problem here is that it’s a two-way road. People with diabetes have a higher chance of developing gum disease, but having gum disease will also make it more difficult for diabetics to maintain their blood glucose levels. The best way to prevent this from ever being a problem is to be more strict about your oral hygiene and speak with your dentist to see if there is anything additional that you can do.

Contact Pacific Northwest Periodontics

It’s not always easy to think of your oral health as anything other than a localized issue. However, there is substantial evidence to indicate that your ability to maintain a healthy mouth will help you prevent systemic diseases and complications. Contact Pacific Northwest Periodontics today to schedule an appointment if you’re experiencing tooth decay or other complications. The sooner you seek treatment for these kinds of issues, the less likely they will be to develop into a complicated systemic disease. If you’d like to read more about how your oral health impacts your overall health, read part two of this blog series.