How Your Oral Health Affects Your Overall Health

Oral health plays a bigger role in your bodily functions than you think. Your teeth and gums play a vital part in your overarching systemic health. Poor oral hygiene habits lead to an increased risk of a variety of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and stroke. This article shows you exactly how oral health affects your overall health.

15 min readHow Your Oral Health Affects Your Overall Health

The importance of regular brushing and flossing habits is universally known. But the well-known ADA recommendation is about more than just keeping your teeth clean, healthy, and white.

Preventing cavities, gum disease, and more severe dental health problems is just the tip of the iceberg.

Oral health is closely tied to your overall health and well-being, meaning that poor oral health increases your chances of having a heart attack, stroke, or another medical emergency.

It also means you're more likely to deal with other health complications (ranging from mild to severe) later on in life.

This article discusses the connection between your mouth, its health, and the rest of your body, including risks, signs of poor oral health, and how to prevent long-term problems.

What Is Your Oral Health, And Why Does It Matter?

"Oral health" describes the general condition of your teeth, gums, tongue, and surrounding soft tissue.

It comprises several factors, including the amount of plaque and tartar present, your brushing and flossing habits, gum disease, cavities, tooth decay, and more.

Multiple risk factors affect your oral health:

  • A poor diet
  • Tobacco and nicotine use
  • Mental health and stress levels
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Your body's reaction to bacteria
  • Medications and hormonal changes associated with aging
  • Animal contacts
  • Environmental exposures (e.g., water and air quality)

When you take active measures to maintain your oral health, your main goal is to regulate your oral microbiome—the bacteria and other microorganisms that live in your mouth.

A healthy oral microbiome keeps harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi from entering the body. If you don't brush your teeth enough, those bacteria will begin to feed on the food particles between your teeth and gums.

Eventually, they'll start to eat your teeth and gums themselves as well.

Poor oral hygiene causes plenty of problems inside your oral cavity, including:

Tooth Decay

If you know four people, at least one of them has untreated tooth decay. Typically, it is the first problem to arise from poor oral health.

Tooth decay happens when the in your mouth combine with sugars and starches to form a thin film (i.e., plaque) that damages your teeth. Over time, it wears down their protective enamel.

Cavities (Dental Caries)

Cavities—also called dental caries—are essentially holes in your teeth. Two billion people across the world suffer from them.

When you don't brush enough, bacteria and acid eat away at your teeth, causing decay. If you don't treat your decay and turn your habits around, you'll eventually end up with cavities.

Cavities are a progressed form of tooth decay, and they require dental fillings. When cavities aren't filled, they usually cause pain, sensitivity, and bad breath.

Gingivitis And Gum Disease

Your gums also suffer when you don't brush and floss properly. Gingivitis (mild gum disease) is the most common form of gum disease, and it causes inflammation around your teeth and gums due to plaque buildup.

When it goes untreated, gingivitis progresses into gum disease (periodontitis), which can cause your gums to recede from your teeth, leaving them susceptible to infection.

Almost half of adults over 30 show signs of gum disease. Like cavities, it is painful and requires professional attention.

Yellow Teeth

38% of respondents in a recent DentaVox survey report having yellow teeth, making it relatively common.

Tooth discoloration frequently results from habits that ruin your teeth. Sugary snacks, neglecting to brush, smoking cigarettes, and drinking lots of coffee or tea can all stain your teeth.

Normal brushing might remove these stains. Most of the time, you'll need teeth whitening treatment to restore their natural color.

Mouth Sores

Some sores (like canker sores) are common, regardless of oral health status. But poor oral hygiene exacerbates them.

Mouth sores, including canker sores and cold sores, are painful and cause a burning sensation in your mouth. If you don't take care of them soon enough, they'll last longer and become more uncomfortable.

Serious Oral Health Risks

Several external factors contribute to the commonality of the above oral health issues.

For some, the pandemic affected oral health. For others, it's another health-related factor like diabetes.

Most of the time, patients make the changes or get the treatment they need before an oral health issue progresses past discoloration, decay, and gum disease.

But those who smoke for their whole lives or avoid proper treatment will eventually face severe consequences, including:

  • Fungal infections
  • Oral cancer
  • Tooth loss
  • Jawbone deterioration

Aside from being physically unattractive (and uncomfortable), these conditions are life-threatening in some instances. If that doesn't motivate you, they're also expensive.

The Connection Between Oral Health And Overall Health

If you consciously (or subconsciously) think your mouth is separate from the rest of your body, you aren't alone.

And who could blame you?

Your dentist and your doctor aren't the same person. And health insurance and dental insurance are two completely different things.

But the state of your oral health is closely linked to your overall well-being. When you neglect your oral hygiene, you put yourself at risk for several health problems throughout your body.

Briefly, here are a few:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney failure
  • Respiratory issues
  • Premature birth and low birth weight
  • Pneumonia
  • A weakened immune system

There are lots of factors that contribute to these serious health issues, but poor oral health plays a bigger role than you think (we'll get into that later).

Signs Of Poor Oral Health

If your oral health is beginning to suffer, chances are you'll notice. Here are a few signs to pay attention to:

Bad Breath

Bad breath can be embarrassing. Dr. Larry Saylor, D.M.D. explains the potential causes of bad breath in-depth.

According to Saylor, periodontal disease is the most common cause of bad breath. As the damaging bacteria eat away at your gums and nearby teeth, they let off an odor that you can taste and smell.

Other causes of bad breath include infections, cavities, and dry mouth—a condition caused by inadequate saliva production in the mouth.

Tooth Discoloration

As previously mentioned, yellow or brown teeth are clear indicators of poor oral health (and others will see them, too).

If your oral health is suffering due to tooth decay, you might notice black dots on your teeth. This indicates your tooth enamel—the barrier between your teeth and the bacteria in your mouth—is worn away.

Red Or Swollen Gums

Inflamed gums are generally caused by one of two factors: gingivitis or periodontal disease.

If you experience sensitivity or pain when brushing or flossing, this is also a sign that your oral health is beginning to suffer (albeit not as severe in this case).

Jaw Pain And Difficulty Chewing Or Swallowing

Pain in your jaw is one of the more difficult signs of poor oral health to ignore.

If your jawbone is deteriorating due to periodontal disease, you might experience pain when biting down or chewing. You could also have difficulty swallowing if the infection has spread to other parts of your mouth and throat.

Benefits Of Having Good Oral Health

The body is a temple, and your mouth is the gatekeeper. Proactively keeping your oral health in check creates a domino effect of good changes for your overall health.

The benefits of having good oral health include:

Improved Bodily Function

Among indicators like access to healthcare, nutritional patterns, and physical activity, Healthy People 2020 identified oral health as a leading health indicator.

This underscores the fact that oral health's benefits for your body truly are multifaceted.

Smiling, eating, talking, and smelling are all functions you might take for granted that your oral health enables.

Deepened Personal And Professional Relationships

Because your mouth is closely tied to your ability to communicate, your oral health is a major factor in whether or not you can develop personal and professional relationships.

Evolutionary-based research points to a fact many of us consider self-evident: Facial features— including the mouth—play a key role in creating impressions.

Rural and lower-income households face the biggest challenges in accessing dental care. The ADA's Health Policy Institute surveys reveal that 20% of low-income adults have poor dental health, and 33% of them believe that it hinders their ability to perform well in job interviews.

One of the easiest ways to be your most attractive self is to have clean teeth.

Better Dating Life's 2019 State of the American Mouth Report had some interesting findings pertaining to how Americans perceive others based on their oral health.

Most interestingly, a significant number of Americans would end a relationship (46%) or avoid spending time with a friend (44%) if they had bad breath.

Approximately two-thirds of Americans (67%) said they would reject someone on a dating app if their pictures showed or suggested they had bad teeth.

These findings show how deeply our oral health can affect even the most intimate relationships.

Higher Self-Esteem

If your oral health suffers, there's a good chance you'll be embarrassed to smile or talk around others. Low self-esteem has far-reaching impacts that manifest in multiple areas of your life—relationships, career growth, and even your willingness to take care of yourself.

One of the main benefits of white teeth is a boost to your confidence—it's why so many people bleach them!

When you have a clean smile, your self-esteem improves, and your outlook on life changes (for the better).

Cost Savings

You might not consider it now, but dental problems cost boatloads of money. Briefly, here's a list of some of the procedures you might need if your oral health deteriorates:

Even on the low end, these treatments cost well into the thousands. If you want to see fewer commas on your dental and medical bills, you need to have good oral health.

Reduced Risk Of Heart Attack

Bacteria won't always stay in one place. Instead, it travels from your mouth to other parts of your body via your bloodstream. This eventually leads to the narrowing of delicate arteries in your heart and increase your risk of a heart attack.

According to the American College of Cardiology, gum disease can raise your risk of a heart attack by almost 50%.

Healthier Lungs

Lung health and oral health are related in two primary ways.

  • If you have a healthy mouth, you probably don't smoke or vape. Your lungs depend on you avoiding smoking because it impedes your ability to take in oxygen. This can create breathing problems and increased risk of lung cancer.
  • Bacteria from your mouth (if present) can travel through your breath as you inhale and settle in your lungs. This can turn into pneumonia or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)—two of the most common causes of death in the U.S.

Healthier lungs rely on you brushing and flossing your teeth, as well as getting regular checkups from a dentist.

Lower Chances Of Infertility

Poor oral health can continue to affect your pregnancy after conception. A large body of research shows the correlation between inadequate oral health and two major pregnancy complications: preterm birth (i.e., delivery before 37 weeks) and low birth weight (i.e., less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces).

9 Health Issues Caused By Bad Oral Health

As you can probably tell, your oral health won't just affect your smile—it dramatically affects the rest of your body.

Let's take a look at some of the specific health issues that arise from oral health problems.

1. Cardiovascular Disease

"Cardiovascular disease" is actually an umbrella term for numerous heart- and blood-vessel-related problems. Poor oral health has been directly linked to several of them, including:

  • Coronary artery disease. The most common type of cardiovascular disease (and the leading cause of death in the U.S.), coronary artery disease commonly causes heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure.
  • Clogged arteries (atherosclerosis). Research indicates that patients with periodontal disease have markedly increased chances of developing atherosclerosis, a condition characterized by plaque accumulation within blood vessels.
  • Stroke. Strokes—namely those related to atherosclerosis—occur when a clot forms in an artery that supplies blood to the brain.

A caveat, according to Dr. Sara Ross, D.M.D of Cleveland Clinic: Although these diseases are related, there's no further evidence that one causes the other.

The question of why exactly the heart and mouth are so closely connected can be answered in one of three ways, according to Harvard University's Robert H. Shmerling, MD:

  • The bacteria responsible for causing gingivitis and periodontitis can spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream, leading to inflammation and damage in the blood vessels. This causes small blood clots, which may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. The main problem with this approach is that antibacterial medications aren't preventive against cardiovascular disease.
  • Inflammation caused by periodontal bacteria triggers a cascade of events that can cause damage in the arteries, leading to cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis.
  • There is no direct link between the two at all, and the correlation is based on a third factor that causes both. Smoking, poor diet, and poor access to healthcare are all risk factors for both conditions.

In 2018, a large study examined a large group of people to see if there was a connection between cardiovascular events (including heart attacks). The study found that the data from almost a million people who experienced over 65,000 cardiovascular events supported the relationship.

2. Endocarditis

People with heart disease or related conditions are more likely to develop endocarditis, an inflammation of the lining of the heart valves and chambers.

Endocarditis isn't directly related to poor oral health. Instead, it results from a bacterial infection that forms after tooth extraction.

In dental patients without preexisting heart conditions, endocarditis is almost unheard of. But again, heart and oral conditions are closely related and share multiple risk factors. Those who require tooth extraction as a restorative measure (e.g., to fix extensive decay due to smoking and poor dietary choices) might have undiagnosed heart problems.

3. Arthritis

Recent research suggests that the negative impact of poor oral health on overall health may extend beyond just cardiovascular disease. Multiple bodies of research have shown a connection between periodontal disease—particularly if the bacterium porphyromonas gingivalis causes it—and rheumatoid arthritis.

This connection is less-studied than the connection between periodontal disease and cardiovascular events, but it is still noteworthy. Rheumatoid arthritis causes painful swelling in the joints, leading to difficulty performing everyday tasks such as using a computer or brushing teeth.

For those with rheumatoid arthritis, poor oral health can add extra pain and joint irritation due to an infection in the mouth.

4. Alzheimer's Disease

Approximately 10% of adults aged 65 or older suffer from Alzheimer's Disease (AD)—a severe neurodegenerative illness. AD progressively leads to cognitive decline, memory loss, and a reduced capacity to perform daily tasks independently.

There are two main types of AD: familial (early onset) and sporadic (late onset). Less than 5% of AD cases are familial, while over 95% are sporadic. Early onset AD is caused by genetic mutations related to the formation of amyloid or senile plaques. The causes and mechanisms behind Sporadic AD are not well understood.

At the UIC College of Dentistry, Dr. Keiko Watanabe serves as a Professor of Periodontics and conducts research on the correlation between oral and systemic health. This research area is important for providing complete patient care.

Dr. Watanabe and Dr. Vladimir Ilievski realized mice exposed to periodontal disease bacteria by oral means developed conditions similar to Alzheimer's disease in humans, such as neuroinflammation, neurodegeneration, and senile plaque formation. No similar conditions were observed in the control group.

The researchers also detected the presence of a periodontal pathogen or product inside the neurons found in the brains of the mice that were involved in the experiment.

5. Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a medical condition in which patients' blood sugar remains abnormally high, putting them at significant risk of disability or premature death. It occurs when your body either doesn't produce enough insulin—a hormone that helps your body convert sugar to energy—or cannot use it effectively.

Research indicates that individuals who have gum disease have a higher likelihood (up to 50%) of developing Type 2 diabetes compared to those with healthy gums.

The reason for this connection: Gum disease leads to inflammation, which causes insulin resistance.

Just like cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes can result from third-party factors such as diet, smoking, and lack of exercise. Some risk factors for one are risk factors for both.

6. Complications In Pregnancy And Birth

Pregnancy and oral health have a long, entangled, relationship. Essentially, pregnancy shakes up the hormone balance throughout women's bodies, leading to softened gums and increased blood flow—both factors making their mouths more vulnerable to infection.

What most women don't realize is that throughout their prengancies, oral health is tied to much more than just infections of the mouth. Other risks include:

  • Fetal growth restriction and preterm birth. Women who have preterm births are 45% more likely to have gum disease than those who have full-term pregnancies.
  • Gestational diabetes. Women who have gum disease are much likelier to develop gestational diabetes, compared to those with healthy gums, according to a new study.
  • Low birth weight. Low birth weight could lead to serious health complications for both the mother and her baby, including vision, hearing, and neurological impairments.
  • Miscarriage. In addition to research pointing to preterm birth, other findings show gum disease can raise the chances of experiencing pre-eclampsia or late-term miscarriage. Bacteria from the mouth can travel through the bloodstream and cause inflammation in the placental membranes, potentially resulting in miscarriage or pre-eclampsia.
  • Stillbirth. The first-ever evidence of oral F. nucleatum causing stillbirth was reported in 2011. Since then, additional research has linked oral bacteria from the mother to stillbirths.

Since pregnancy primarily affects women's gums and their outer membranes, most of these issues are related to gingivitis, gum disease, and bacterial infections.

"Pregnancy gingivitis" describes the high risk of gingivitis during pregnancy. Pregnant women are more prone to gingivitis due to hormonal changes, which cause their gums to become softer and more vulnerable to bacteria.

7. Respiratory illness

The oral microbiome comprises more than 700 different kinds of bacteria—some good, some bad.

The connection between respiratory illnesses and oral health is multifaceted but usually relates to breathing in unhealthy bacteria, or that which is present in excessive amounts.

  • Tooth infections. Overgrowth of harmful bacteria leads to tooth decay, inflamed gums, and eventual infection. When it spreads to your lungs, it can cause bronchitis or pneumonia and can make existing conditions (e.g., emphysema, COPD) worse.
  • Breathing in bacteria. The International Journal of Molecular Sciences explains that oral bacteria reaches other systems via two pathways. The first involves breathing bacteria into the lungs. According to the University of Missouri, small, bacteria-containing saliva droplets also travel to and from the mouth while breathing. Lung tissue can become irritated and inflamed, especially if your oral health has already compromised your oral health in another way.
  • Bacteria in your bloodstream. Bacteria's second pathway to the lungs is through the bloodstream. When gum disease breaks down gum tissues, it creates an opening for infection to spread this way.

8. Depression

Among the most heavily researched connections in the mental health field is that of depression and subjective appearance. It goes without saying that teeth play a huge role in how people perceive themselves (and whether or not they smile at all).

Newer research indicates this relationship is bidirectional—that is, appearance influences depression just as depression leads many who suffer from it to a less satisfactory appearance (e.g., through weight gain, neglect of oral hygiene, etc.).

As this relates to oral health specifically, the CareQuest Institute for Oral Health reported a few key findings:

  • Adults who have depression report less frequent brushing and flossing compared with those who don't.
  • Those with poor mental health—which includes depression—are likelier to have dental health needs that have not been met. And they are less likely to seek dental care for these needs than those with better mental health.
  • Higher levels of tooth decay are directly associated with depression.
  • Individuals with temporomandibular disorder (TMD) (a type of chronic pain in the face and jaw) tend to have higher scores on depression measures than those who do not have TMD.

It's clear: Oral health and mental health are closely related. And while it's not easy to overcome depression, taking good care of one’s teeth and gums can help maintain a person’s appearance and also improve self-esteem and overall well-being.

9. Digestive Problems

According to Dr. Flora Stay from Total Health Magazine, having healthy teeth and gums is important for proper chewing of food, which in turn promotes good digestion. Dr. Stay emphasizes that dental issues such as misalignment, infection, and missing teeth can hinder our ability to chew food, resulting in potential digestive problems in the future.

Dr. Steven Lin has found a link between the health of your mouth and your digestive system. Bad bacteria in your mouth can cause inflammation and lead to gum disease. These same harmful bacteria travel to your digestive tract when you swallow and cause an imbalance, which results in digestive issues.

GI issues also impact your oral health. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (i.e., heartburn) pushes stomach acids into the mouth, damaging tooth enamel. Stomach acid is more alkaline than dental enamel, meaning the acid has the potential to cause significant chemical erosion to the enamel.

7 Best Practices For Healthy Teeth

The saying, "healthy body, healthy mind," rings true. Based on the above, it's clear oral health plays a role in both the former and the latter half of the statement.

So, how can you take care of your teeth?

Establish And Maintain A Daily Oral Health Routine.

Although it sounds cliché, it's shocking how many people don't brush their teeth as much as they should. Almost one out of every three Americans neglects at least one of the two recommended daily brushing sessions.

Brushing your teeth twice daily and flossing once daily should be part of any healthy oral health regimen.

Eat Healthy.

As mentioned throughout the article, diet is closely related not just to oral health problems, but also to heart problems.

Here are a few foods and drinks that damage teeth that can also damage your overall health:

  • Candy (hard and soft)
  • Potato chips and other starchy snacks
  • Sugary drinks (sodas, juice, sports drinks)
  • Alcoholic beverages

Of course, some foods that can damage your tooth enamel can actually be healthy for you. Citrus fruits, for example, are highly acidic but are also highly nutritious. It's best to limit your intake of these foods while maintaining your oral hygiene.

Exercise Regularly.

Exercise won't directly impact your oral health, but it will lift your overall mood. And it doesn't take much—about 1.25 hours of brisk walking per week can yield 18% lower rates of depression (which has a bilateral relationship with oral health).

Those who routinely exercise tend to keep up with the rest of their schedules as well. If you aren't someone who regularly brushes their teeth, your oral hygiene will almost certainly benefit from regular exercise.

Manage Your Stress.

Stress and oral health have a more unilateral relationship, which is why it wasn't included in this article's "risks" section.

Stressed individuals often report "nervousness," which can manifest as teeth grinding and jaw clenching. These habits lead to irreversible damage, such as tooth enamel erosion and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).

Many people who deal with stress also describe feelings of paralysis—that is, they feel physically incapable of carrying through with activities they know they need to. These include everyday habits like brushing your teeth.

There are plenty of ways to manage stress:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Find hobbies that take your mind off of stressful things
  • Make time for yourself
  • Take breaks throughout the work day
  • Meditate
  • In serious cases, see a therapist

You'll have to take the time to figure out what works for you, but if you do, your oral health (and overall well being!) will thank you.

See Your Dentist Twice Every Year.

Regular teeth cleanings are absolutely critical when it comes to your oral health. Your dentist can catch mild (and potentially unnoticeable) dental issues before they become bigger and more costly problems. Cleanings also provide an opportunity to get your teeth professionally polished, which helps prevent discoloration.

Unfortunately, the American public doesn't seem to feel the same way.

A recent report from Business Insider revealed that 62% of Americans have had their cars serviced in the past six months, whereas only 51% have received a dental cleaning. And 45% of Americans would rather spend their money on TV services than dental procedures. Among millennials (aged 18-34), this percentage increases to 56%.

Still, adults need to visit the dentist every six months for a routine check-up. Otherwise, they risk costly and irreversible damage to their teeth.

Quit Smoking And Vaping.

If you smoke, you are putting your entire health at serious risk. Heart, lung, and mouth problems are the obvious threats, but tobacco use has been linked to a wide array of other health issues.

In terms of oral health, smokers are at increased risk for gum disease, tooth decay, and even oral cancer.

Vaping is no better—the liquids and aerosols used in e-cigarettes contain toxic chemicals that deposit themselves on top of your gum membrane and tooth enamel, creating a breeding ground for bacteria.

Since there is only a limited timeline and body of research regarding the long-term effects of vaping on oral health, using vape pens is especially dangerous. The best approach is to severely limit or completely omit tobacco and vaping from your life.

Whiten Your Teeth For A Better-Looking Smile.

Naturally, teeth are varied shades of yellow. If you want a brighter, more attractive smile, there is always the option of over-the-counter or professional teeth whitening.

At-home teeth whitening is relatively inexpensive and accessible. Just like professional solutions, it includes bleaching agents (i.e., hydrogen or carbamide peroxide) that lighten the yellow or brown stains on your teeth.

That said, you should only use these treatments every six months or so to avoid enamel erosion and sensitivity.

For those who can spend the extra money, in-office whitening can deliver near-immediate results.

Important note: White teeth are not indicators of good oral health nor is teeth whitening a substitute for your oral health routine. If you have a preexisting oral health problem, you are not a candidate for teeth whitening. And if you choose to whiten your teeth while you have a cavity, gum disease, or another issue, you will likely experience pain and do potentially irreversible damage.

Wrapping Up

The bottom line is that your oral health and overall well-being are deeply intertwined. Taking steps to improve one will improve the other in ways you may not even realize.

The good news is your oral health doesn't take much. Regular brushing, flossing, and bi-annual dentist visits are usually enough.

In the case of both your oral health and your overall well-being, taking the time to closely monitor and improve your habits is always worth it. Taking this advice to heart (and mouth!) will serve you for years to come.

Want to learn more? Here are the questions our customers ask us the most.

Can Not Brushing Your Teeth Cause Stomach Problems?

There are some links between oral and digestive health. These include:

  • Oral health conditions impacting the digestive tract, such as tooth and jaw misalignment that affects chewing and the spread of certain oral bacteria to the gut.
  • Gut disorders and chronic digestive issues can that affect oral health, including inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS), celiac disease, and heartburn.

While not brushing your teeth won't directly cause stomach problems, it can increase the risk of other oral conditions that could lead to digestive issues down the road.

How Does Poor Dental Health Affect The Body?

Poor dental health negatively affects the body in too many ways to count. Here are the most notable:

  • Oral health problems, including bad breath, gingivitis, periodontal disease, tooth decay, oral infections, and even systemic conditions like heart disease
  • Poor nutrition due to difficulty chewing or swallowing foods
  • Severe pain caused by toothaches, infection, and abscesses that can interfere with sleep and daily activities
  • Lower self-esteem due to the appearance of yellow or missing teeth
  • Increased risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and other serious health complications due to the spread of bacteria from the mouth to the rest of the body
  • Respiratory health problems
  • Digestive issues
  • Problems in your personal, professional, and dating life

Can Gum Disease Spread To Other Parts Of The Body?

Gum disease itself can't spread to other parts of the body, but the bacteria from gum disease can. If it enters your bloodstream, it can spread to other organs like your heart, lungs, and GI tract. This could lead to serious medical complications such as endocarditis (heart valve infection) or pneumonia (lung infection).

Can Gum Disease Cause Inflammation In The Body?

Localized gum inflammation can quickly turn into chronic inflammation, especially when it is related to bad habits (e.g., smoking) or preexisting health problems (e.g., diabetes). This can trigger a cascade of events that could lead to systemic inflammation throughout the body, impacting your immune system and increasing the risk of blood clots, diabetes, and other serious health problems.

Can You Die From Not Brushing Your Teeth?

Technically, you won't die from not brushing your teeth. But you will eventually die from the long-term effects of poor oral health and an increased risk of cardiopulmonary complications, which are the leading causes of death in the United States.

The best way to protect your oral health (and overall well-being) is to brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily, and visit the dentist every six months for a professional cleaning. This combination will help you avoid serious oral health issues and keep your teeth healthy and strong.