While many people feel that dental care only really looks after your teeth and gums, things go a lot complicated than that. After all, our mouths are gateways into the rest of our bodies! It’s only natural that anything that passes our mouth will affect our overall health. That, unfortunately, can include harmful bacteria.

In our guide to the link between oral and overall health, we have already discussed how overall wellbeing can be affected by poor dental hygiene. While we are going to look at a few similar themes in this guide, we will be considering something called oral-systemic health, which covers a wider study of how our bodies react to oral bacteria.

Did you know that some of the most severe illnesses and conditions we face can be made worse having by poor dental hygiene? It is not just important to see your local dental professional (dentists and oral health therapists) if you are experiencing dental pain. Consulting with your dental professional will allow you to understand the impact of your oral health on the rest of your body.

Oral-Systemic Health: The Basics

dental tools on top of a dental chair

We’ve already looked at the very basics of bodily health and oral health. The oral-systemic health connection recognises that poor oral health, in general, can not only lead to bleeding gums and dental pain, but can also make things worse elsewhere.

Problems that may potentially arise as a result of poor oral-systemic health can include:

  • Type II diabetes
  • Stroke risks
  • Cardiovascular and heart problems
  • Breathing diseases such as sleep apnoea
  • Sleep problems and insomnia
  • Facial problems and disorders
  • Oral cancers
  • Anxiety and depression

While many of these problems and diseases can arise through other complications and causes, there are strong links to oral health. We will be exploring them in a little more detail in this guide. Some of the problems listed here you may be familiar with after reading our original piece linking body and oral health together. This time, however, we will be taking a more comprehensive look at the risks involved.

How to Boost Oral-Systemic Health

The simplest ways to optimise your oral-systemic health are to look after your teeth and gums! As always, regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste, cleaning in between your teeth will protect your mouth. If you leave plaque to build up, gum (periodontal) disease and tooth decay (dental caries) can develop. You are also risking harmful bacteria reaching other parts of your body. Advanced gum disease and tooth decay can lead to missing teeth, which can affect how you eat.

If you are already at risk of developing certain problems or have a weakened immune system, it will be extremely important that you take good care of your teeth and gums. A dental professional will be able to help you improve your oral health risks if you are worried. Of course, the aim of educating you about oral-systemic health isn’t to scare you. It’s about taking greater care of things you have control over.

What are the Main Causes of Oral-Systemic Problems?

man smoking a cigarette

Hundreds of studies over the years have found that poor dental hygiene is partly responsible for bacteria reaching our internal systems. Research has shown that there are generally two main culprits when it comes to seriously put systemic health at risk, at least from the mouth downwards.

  • Dental infections and tooth decay are likely to harbor incredible levels of bacteria. Did you know that there are billions of bacteria living in our saliva? Just one drop could contain enough to take control causing infection of teeth and gums.
  • Gum disease, which can easily be cared, can inflame your gums and cause chronic bleeding. Bacteria from gum disease has been shown to travel into heart valves causing a severe infection known as infective endocarditis. A poor diet and even stress could trigger unhealthy biofilm.
  • Long-term use of tobacco such as smoking and heavy alcohol consumption increases your risk for developing oral cancer.

Therefore, it has never been more important to take care of your teeth and gums. With regular dental check-ups and by taking due care of your mouth at home, there is no reason why you should ever be at risk of developing gum, tissue, or nerve problems. If you value your overall health, you should always start by taking care of your mouth!

Known Problems Aggravated by Poor Oral Health

There has been extensive research undertaken over the years concerning the problems that can be caused by poor oral-systemic health. Here is a cross-section of those issues in a little more detail.

  • Oral cancers can be developed through a number of poor oral choices. Not only can cancerous deposits form as a result of viral infection and poor oral health care, but they can also form as a result of tobacco or alcohol abuse. Dental professionals can easily diagnose these factors before they become too severe.
  • Breathing problems can arise as common factors in poor oral-systemic health. Some of the more chronic lung conditions can develop as a result of poor gum hygiene, and it is now better understood than before that both are closely linked. Once again, tongue problems may also lead to airway blockages.
  • In recent guides, we have explored that heart and kidney diseases can also be triggered by poor oral health. Either condition can occur as a result of tissue inflammation and blood vessel disorders.
  • There is also the matter of dementia. While studies into the links between poor oral hygiene and neurological disorders are relatively new, there are strong suggestions in place which show bacteria could find its way into the control centre of the brain.

Take Action!

It goes without saying that the best way to fight against poor oral-systemic health is to prevent harmful bacteria from building up. Excellent home hygiene care and regular dental visits, including professional cleaning of teeth, will help keep you smiling for life.
As a leading dental practice, we have of course written guides on how to look after your mouth elsewhere on our website! If you are serious about staying healthy, here are a few steps you can take each day.

  • Always brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Don’t forget to spit, not rinse!
  • Dental floss and other useful dental hygiene tools will help clean areas your toothbrush can’t reach. They include interdental and flossettes to help reach into the tightest of corners and crevices.
  • An electric toothbrush toothbrush can also be more efficient than manual brushing. A normal toothbrush will only ever do half the work for you. Electric brushes make sure to clean every part of your teeth and gums.
  • Avoid sugary foods, carbonated drinks, and excessive alcohol where you can help it. To avoid direct damage to your teeth (as well as any annoying toothaches), try drinking soft drinks through a straw.
  • Regularly check in with your dental professional. It can be a dentist or oral health therapist.


Our final piece of advice to give about oral-systemic health will be not to panic. Check in with us at Coburg Hill Oral Care – call (03) 9041 5301 to book your appointment.