Oral Systemic Connection–A Health Mouth, A Healthy Body

Sellwood-Moreland and Portland OR

Your mouth is the gateway to your health, and the lips don’t lie. Research concludes that many systemic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, gum disease and other health conditions often present symptoms in the mouth, which can be an early warning sign that a problem exists. If you want to take control of your health, start with your mouth. Here’s how regular trips to the dentist can help guard your overall health.

What is gum disease?

Medically referred to as periodontitis, this disease is an infection of the gums, caused by bacteria that erode tooth enamel, and jaw bone. It affects the majority of Americans, yet it is the single most preventable disease.

Gum disease reeks havoc on oral health, and can cause the following issues:

  • Loose teeth
  • Swollen, red, bleeding gums
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Lost teeth
  • Pain in mouth (especially while chewing)
  • Bad breath

The mouth and body connection

As if these problems were not enough, the disease affects more than just the mouth. Many systemic diseases have been linked to these harmful bacteria. Once this bacteria enters the bloodstream by way of the gums, it travels throughout the body and increases one’s risk of developing life-threatening diseases.

Heart Disease

Researchers at the University of Rochester have linked oral bacteria to an increased risk of heart disease. Studies found that harmful oral bacteria can attach itself to the fatty plaque found in arteries of the heart, which is what leads to clots, heart attacks, and strokes. Although diet and exercise play a critical role in heart health, keeping a healthy mouth does too.


Diabetics are prone to developing gum disease due to their inability to heal quickly. If you suffer from diabetes, it is essential to undergo routine dental exams and cleanings. Not a diabetic? You are not in the clear either. Studies have also linked gum disease to the constant fluctuation of blood-sugar levels, a contributing factor of diabetes.

Gum disease has been connected to many other health-related conditions including:

  • Kidney disease
  • Cancer of various types
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Cognitive decline (Alzheimer’s Disease)
  • Low-birth-weight in babies
  • Premature birth
  • Smoking

Treating gum disease

Gum disease is one of the most preventable diseases, yet many people are unaware of their condition. A good regimen of at-home care such as brushing and flossing daily, as well as consuming a balanced diet can help you maintain good oral health, but that is not all. Routine visits to the dentist should be a necessary part of everyone’s oral health, regardless of age. During these visits, we can identify problems such as periodontitis, and treat it immediately instead of waiting until the problem becomes worse.

Take control of your health by preventing gum disease or stopping it in its tracks. To schedule an appointment, please contact Whole Health Dentistry today by calling (503) 462-1538.

Whole Health Dentistry provides total oral care for patients in the Oregon communities of Sellwood-Moreland and Portland.