The Critical Connections Between Oral Health & Overall Health

Dental Health
By: Spirit Dental
January 18, 2023

Man and woman smiling with dental health

Did you know that the health of your mouth is very closely tied to your overall health? There has been a ton of research that has found numerous links between oral health and overall health. That's why taking care of your teeth is so incredibly important. With affordable dental insurance from Spirit Dental, you can make sure you are taking care of both your dental health and overall health.

Let's take a look at four of the ways oral hygiene and overall health have been linked.


1. Diabetes

One connection between oral hygiene and overall health is type 2 diabetes. Doctors have known for many years that those that suffer from type 2 diabetes have a much-increased incidence of periodontitis and/or gum disease.

Researchers at Columbia University found that people who had higher levels of gum disease had two times the risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared with people who suffered from no gum disease. While a lot more research is needed to further explain the connection,  there is no doubt to medical professionals that gum disease can actually lead people to develop diabetes.

There are different theories as to why this happens. One of them is that the infections in your mouth can actually spread throughout the rest of your body. Therefore, the inflammation and infections can wreak havoc on your ability to process sugar, which can lead to diabetes.

2. Heart disease

Just as with diabetes, there have been a few connections theorized between dental health and heart health, specifically heart disease. However, the results are not yet conclusive as to whether the relation between oral hygiene and heart health is actually direct. There are a few common causes of heart disease and poor oral health. For instance, smoking has been identified to cause gum disease as well as cardiovascular issues.

Researchers have yet to figure out what directly causes this connection between dental care and heart health, but they have a couple of theories as to why this happens. One theory is that small amounts of bacteria may enter your bloodstream through infections in your mouth while chewing which can then run through the rest of your bloodstream.

Because of this, the bacteria can lodge themselves in different blood vessels which can cause a lot of dangerous blockages and lead to heart disease. If periodontal diseases are treated earlier, it might reduce arterial blockage thereby saving the patient from riskier cardiovascular diseases.

3. Pregnancy complications

A lot of pregnant women actually suffer from gum infections throughout their pregnancy as a result of hormone fluctuation. However, researchers have shown that it is a huge mistake to neglect oral care while pregnant because gum disease and/or inflammation in the gums/mouth can actually cause an increase in the production of a chemical compound that is known as prostaglandin. This chemical compound is actually widely known to have the ability to produce early labor.

Therefore, there is sufficient evidence of another serious connection between oral health and overall health: poor overall dental care and oral health can lead to very low birth weight and other pregnancy complications.

4. Osteoporosis

Sometimes a health issue outside of your mouth can be found hinting at problems in your mouth, showing another link between oral hygiene and overall health. Osteoporosis, commonly seen in postmenopausal women, causes your bones to become weaker. Believe it or not, your mouth can alert a dentist to thinning bones in other parts of your body, even though this condition typically won’t result in changes to your teeth.

When osteoporosis takes hold, it causes changes within the bone that gives support to your teeth. So if your dentist notices that you have loose teeth or a receding gum line, he may recommend talking to your doctor to see if osteoporosis is to blame and to receive the appropriate treatment.

Frequently asked questions about oral health and overall health

We have shown four common health issues showing the connection between oral health and overall health, but you still may have questions. We have answered a few common questions we hear about the link between dental health and overall health below.

What are some of the other medical conditions that might be associated with poor oral health?

Besides the three we listed above, other medical issues associated with poor oral health may include:


  • Endocarditis
  • Pneumonia
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Arthritis
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Can you sign up for Spirit Dental insurance any time?

Yes, you can! You don’t have to wait for an Open Enrollment period to sign up for Spirit Dental, so you can sign up any time of the year. If you are self-employed, between jobs or retired, you can get affordable dental insurance now. And we offer dental insurance with no waiting periods so you can start taking care of your oral hygiene and overall health as soon as you sign up.

Trust Spirit Dental to help improve your oral health and overall health

Because oral health and overall health are linked so closely, it is important that you take care of your mouth. With Spirit Dental, it's so easy to get dental insurance quotes and have your dental care covered quickly. Compare dental insurance plans and find the one that is right for you. Let us help you care for your mouth and your whole body.

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