When you brush your teeth and floss each day, you know that you are completing an important daily routine that keeps your mouth clean and healthy. But did you know that scrubbing your pearly whites also helps to keep your entire body in optimal health? Having an unhealthy mouth does not just result in discomfort, pain, and costly dental procedures. Poor dental health can actually affect your digestive, respiratory, and circulatory systems. It can even affect your brain.

Oral bacteria

How can poor dental health have such an impact on an individual’s overall health? One of the primary ways is through oral bacteria. A healthy mouth naturally contains a certain amount of bacteria. However, gum disease and oral infections can cause an overabundance of the wrong kind of bacteria to thrive in the mouth. There are various ways that oral bacteria can spread to the rest of the body:

  • Bacteria is swallowed into the digestive system.
  • It spreads into the lungs when we breathe in.
  • It can be absorbed through blood vessels and into the bloodstream.

Again, consuming a certain amount of bacteria is perfectly normal and healthy. However, if a person has too much bad bacteria in their mouth–perhaps from tooth decay, gum disease, or an infection–they could run the risk of spreading too much harmful bacteria to the rest of their body.

Dental health and diseases

Studies have shown that poor dental health can be associated with a variety of ailments in other areas of the body. What does science know about the link between oral health and certain diseases?

Cardiovascular Disease

Research has shown that poor oral health can lead to blood vessel inflammation and sometimes infection of the inner lining of the heart, both of which can contribute to heart disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Scientists are studying how oral health may be linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Older people who have gum disease or oral infections may be more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.


Pneumonia is a dangerous infection of the lungs. Harmful bacteria can travel from the mouth to the lungs when an individual breathes in. When such bacteria reach the lungs, there could be a risk of developing pneumonia.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease, or IBD, is a term for digestive diseases that involve inflammation of the digestive tract. Studies have shown that those who suffer from IBD can benefit greatly from maintaining good oral health. Having a healthy mouth can mean fewer IBD symptoms and flare-ups.

Other Diseases and Disorders

Poor dental health may also contribute to the development of pregnancy complications; an increased risk of stroke; skin infections; diabetes; and many other ailments.

Smile League Dental

If you are concerned about maintaining your overall health and well-being through your dental health, or if you simply wish to get the best quality dental care available in the Joliet area, please feel free to get in touch with us. At Smile League Dental, we are passionate about providing our patients with excellent care in a comfortable and family-friendly clinic. You can reach us at 815-782-6243.