Wednesday, Sep 20, 2023

The Connection between Oral Health and General Wellness

Maintaining good oral health is crucial for overall well-being, as your teeth and gums play a significant role. They allow you to speak, eat, smile, and express your emotions.

The state of your oral health can provide insight into your overall well-being, as many health issues show oral symptoms before other signs become apparent. Your dental team is skilled at identifying these warning signs and helping you to prevent them.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is a disease that starts when bacteria eat the sugars in your food and drink. This creates acid that attacks the enamel, the hard outer layer of your teeth. Left untreated, it can lead to holes (dental cavities).

Saliva helps prevent tooth decay by buffering the acids plaque produces and washing away foods and sugars. Fluoride, found in most kinds of toothpaste, mouthwashes, and water, can also help strengthen your enamel and fight against decay.

Make sure to brush your teeth at least twice daily, especially after meals. Limiting between-meal snacks is also a good idea, giving the bacteria more sugar to convert into acids. And ask your dentist about sealants, thin plastic coatings that protect your back teeth (molars) chewing surfaces. They’re usually recommended for children but can be helpful for adults too. Tooth decay is more likely to occur in these chewing teeth because they have grooves, pits, and crannies that collect food particles.

Gum Disease

Besides being an early warning sign for other health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, gum disease also lowers the body’s resistance to infection. This increases the likelihood of bacterial and viral infections such as COVID-19, pneumonia, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Great news! Daily brushing, flossing, and regular professional teeth cleanings can easily prevent gum disease. A dental professional at Dental Office agrees that patients with better oral hygiene have a lower risk of gum disease than those with poor oral hygiene.

The gap between the medical and dental professions is narrowing, but much work remains to be done at both the personal and systemic levels. For example, separate insurance systems and incompatible electronic health records hinder effective communication between medical and dental practices and care delivery between your family dentist. This is a critical barrier that needs to be overcome. Developing trusting relationships and fostering patient involvement are essential steps in this process.


The mouth is the “gateway to the body” and has a two-way relationship with systemic health. Poor oral health can impact total body wellness through infections like gum disease and cavities, leading to more severe issues, including heart disease, diabetes, and pregnancy complications.

Were you aware that stress can weaken your immune system? As a result, you may be more susceptible to dental infections and other health complications. It’s essential to take care of ourselves, especially during times of stress. It can also cause symptoms like teeth grinding or jaw clenching, damaging your mouth.

Participants in the study highlighted the importance of having a person-focused approach to health promotion. They also emphasized the need to consider social responsibility for oral health. These themes emerged from the analysis of transcripts of interviews with 11 dental professionals (3 dentists, seven hygienists). They are outlined below.


A mouth that aches, gums that bleed, or breath that smells can indicate poor oral health. Bacteria in the mouth can irritate the bloodstream, spreading infection and inflammation to other body parts.

Similarly, eating a diet that is low in nutrients can affect the health of your teeth and gums. In turn, that can cause problems such as malnutrition, weight loss or gain, and increased risk for heart disease and lung damage.

Dental professionals who participated in the interviews perceived the importance of considering their patients’ circumstances when planning and implementing health promotion activities. They discussed four themes that capture the underlying meaning of their health promotion roles: believing in the patient’s life situation, developing trusting relationships with patients, strengthening their commitment to oral health, and educating patients on oral health. The themes are summarized below with direct quotations from the interview transcripts.