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The Important Link Between Oral Health and Overall Health

Updated: May 28



IT IS OFTEN SAID, "THE MOUTH IS THE GATEWAY TO THE BODY." While it's easy to think of oral health and dentistry as the practice of treating the mouth, oral health is much more than a healthy, attractive smile. In fact, recent studies show there are countless ways in which oral health actually affects the entire body -- from your heart to your brain. This is also popularly referred to as the "mouth-body connection".


Food and water are vital to survival and both of these things enter your body first through your mouth. Your teeth help to process food and is where digestion begins. Your gums aid in keeping bacteria out of the bloodstream. Your mouth, along with your nose, brings air to your lungs to keep your respiratory system functioning. It's not hard to see how oral health has downstream effects on virtually every other system in your body!


The connection between mouth and body is important in understanding your health holistically and as your South San Francisco dentists, we are looking out not only for your oral health but your overall health. There are a number of ways oral health can inform a person's general health that may surprise you.


  • Did you know that treating gum disease can not only reduce the plaque on your teeth but also the deposits that build up on the walls of your arteries?


  • In a 2023 study, researchers found that the risk of stroke was 2.5 times higher in people with periodontitis, while another separate study found gum disease increased a person's risk of cardiovascular disease by 1.2 times.


  • When we think about heart disease, it's easy to focus on stroke or cardiovascular disease caused by high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Did you know that chronic inflammation from gum disease has been linked to cardiovascular problems such as heart disease, blockages of blood vessels and strokes? When bacteria and inflammation are combined, this can greatly weaken the immune system and its ability to fight diseases.


  • Good oral health can protect against Alzheimer's disease. Recent studies have found that the bacteria that causes gum disease is also associate with the development of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias, especially vascular dementia.


  • Diabetes is a serious health condition which can have a far-reaching impact on the body as a whole. Just having an oral disease is associated with a 9% increased risk of developing diabetes. Researchers in Europe found that a simple step like brushing three times per day prevents bacteria from thriving and can lower the risk of developing diabetes by 8%.

Our patients may be surprised to know that dental check-ups have been instrumental, and sometimes even life-saving, for current patients whose routine exam became an early indicator of chronic disease and even cancer. At South San Francisco Dental Care, our comprehensive dental exams and x-rays can tell us a lot of vital information about your overall health, and which we want to keep you informed of!


This is why regular x-rays and dental check-ups are not only important but also necessary. Whether you are coming to us from another provider or have been with us for years, we want to make sure we have the most accurate, full picture of your overall health. Contact us today to setup your next dental appointment or receive more information on keeping your oral health in top shape!



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