Why Oral Hygiene Is Crucial to Your Overall Health

There can be no debating the fact that your oral hygiene is critically important to your overall health and wellness. The health of your mouth, gums, and teeth may not be one of the first things you think of when you are considering the state of health you are in. But, you should. Oral health plays a major role in the propensity for you to develop certain health conditions.

At Sninski & Schmitt Family Dentistry, our skilled dental professionals carry the importance of your oral hygiene through our service to patients every day. In this article, we cover how your oral health affects your overall health.

The Close Connection Between Oral Health and Overall Health

The link between oral health and overall health starts with germs. Your mouth is full of germs that can enter the digestive tract. This is because your mouth is the primary pathway into the body and a great environment in which bacteria thrive. There are as many as 6 million bacteria present in a person’s mouth. Most of these germs are not harmful. However,  when bad germs travel from the mouth throughout your digestive system, they can enter organs that allow breathing in the respiratory tract, and this can lead to disease throughout your entire body.

Oral Health is a First-Line Health Indicator

Studies from the Mayo Clinic indicate that oral bacteria and inflammation related to gum disease may contribute to several serious conditions, such as:

  • Endocarditis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Pneumonia
  • Pregnancy and birth complications
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Higher risk of cancer
  • Poor nutrition


This is an infection of the endocardium, which is the inner lining of your heart valves and chambers. An infection can begin when bacteria move from your mouth to other parts of your body, enter your bloodstream, and then spread to certain areas of your heart.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is a term for a group of disorders connected to your heart and blood vessels. This more than likely stems from inflammation and infections from bacteria. Poor oral health has been shown to be connected with clogged arteries, heart disease, and stroke.


Pneumonia as well as other respiratory conditions can occur when bacteria spreads from your mouth into your lungs.

Alzheimer’s Disease

A specific bacteria, called Porphyromonas Gingivalis, can move from the mouth to the brain. Once it is in the brain, the bacteria release enzymes called gingipains that can destroy nerve cells. This can then lead to memory loss and eventually Alzheimer’s.


People with diabetes are more susceptible to periodontal disease, making blood sugar management more difficult and complicated.

Higher Risk of Cancer

Researchers at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that people with a history of gum disease also have a higher risk of stomach and esophageal cancers. Looking at two large studies involving a total of 150,000 men and women, the researchers found that during the follow-up periods of 22 to 28 years, people with  gum disease had a 43% higher risk of developing esophageal cancer and a 52% higher risk of developing stomach cancer as compared to people whose gums were healthier.

Poor Nutrition

Nutrition plays an important role in your gum health. If your nutrition is poor, the first signs often show up in your mouth. Poor nutrition increases the chance of developing periodontal disease because inadequate nutrition weakens your immune system. When your diet is high in sugar and processed carbohydrates, it can increase inflammation and susceptibility to periodontal disease. If you lack getting enough Vitamin C, your gums can bleed and you can develop gum disease. Vitamin C is essential for the production of collagen, a protein that helps keep your gums healthy.

Health Conditions and Situations that Affect Your Oral Health

There are some health conditions that can impact your oral health, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Certain cancers
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Eating disorders

Additionally, some medications can reduce the amount of saliva you produce. These include painkillers, decongestants, antihistamines, antidepressants, and diuretics. Saliva cleans your mouth of food and neutralizes acids from bacteria, which can contribute to poor oral health when you have reduced saliva.

Reasons Why Preventive Dental Care is Important

It is always easier to stop oral health problems than to fix them. In other words, prevention is better than a cure. Preventive care including brushing and flossing regularly not only reduces the risk of cavities and other oral health issues but also avoids secondary health problems such as diabetes and cancer.

The state of your oral health is affected by the hygiene routine you practice and the food you eat. Additionally, access to dental care contributes to the oral health of many individuals who live in rural and lower-income households. Good oral hygiene includes regular dental checkups in order to prevent the buildup of plaque and by brushing your teeth regularly and limiting sugar and carbohydrates. Sugar and carbohydrates that turn into sugar lead to increased tooth decay and cavities. Eating foods that are rich in antioxidants, such as fruit and vegetables, support the balance of the bacteria in the mouth.

Here are some tips for preventive dental care.

  • Regular brushing: Two minutes spent brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste in the morning and before bed is very important in maintaining good oral health. Replace your toothbrush twice per year at a minimum. Toothbrushes and toothpaste should have the ADA Seal of Acceptance from the American Dental Association.
  • Daily flossing: Floss before going to bed at night to remove food particles where toothbrushes can’t reach. Use mouthwash to disinfect hard-to-reach places.
  • Diet: A balanced and healthy diet applies to oral and overall health. Include foods rich in calcium to reduce the chances of jawbone deterioration. Leave out acidic and sugary foods and drinks.
  • Fluoride: Fluoride strengthens the tooth’s outer enamel layer.
  • Fluoride applications: These are important if your water source is a private well. Cities fluoridate public water but well water typically is not fluoridated.
  • Routine checkups: Professional cleanings twice year are recommended for preventive care. These cleanings remove tartar and plaque that can build up even after regular brushing and flossing. Hardened plaque is only removable by a hygienist or dentist. Dentists also check for early signs of enamel erosion and tooth decay. They also check for signs of periodontitis and signs of throat or mouth cancer.

Contact Your Dental Team at Sninski and Schmitt to Maintain Good Oral Health

Our dental professionals at Sninski and Schmitt are experienced in helping you maintain good oral health so your overall health isn’t affected negatively. For regular dental checkups and other dental issues, see us. We offer teeth cleanings at both of our dentist office locations. You can reach us at our Holly Springs dentist office at 919-600-6262 and our Cary dentist office at 919-467-2203. Or, you can also fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.