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15 Diseases Caused by Poor Dental Hygiene


What is oral-systemic health and how does poor dental hygiene cause disease?

Oral-Systemic health is a term to showcase the rising and increasingly important research-based links, or connections, between oral health and whole-body health. Research has shown countless health issues caused by poor oral health. 

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Oral-systemic health is connected to

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Periodontal disease
  • Diabetes
  • High-risk pregnancy 
  • Cancer
  • Obesity
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Obesity

    The mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body.  

    Healthcare professionals continue to find evidence supporting the oral-systemic link. Symptoms of health issues such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease can first be detected in the mouth. High-risk bacteria beginning in the mouth enter the bloodstream and lead to catastrophic systemic conditions. 
    The good news? Testing oral pathogens and DNA analysis are just two options to detecting disease to help healthcare practitioners treat and prevent disease. AAOSH's mission is to bring together healthcare practitioners from all fields - medical, dental, airway, myofunctional therapy, physical therapy, and more - to educate and implement disease prevention through the oral-systemic link and collaborative healthcare efforts.

Diseases Caused by Poor Dental Hygiene

1. Cardiovascular disease

Between 80-90% of heart disease can be prevented! Proper dental Hygiene is just one way to lower risk for developing cardiovascular disease. Periodontal disease is directly linked to artery inflammation. Bacteria from the mouth enters the bloodstream, causing arteries to harden, which in turn increases a patient's risk for stroke or heart attack. 

Poor oral health is also related to high blood pressure and dense LDL cholesterol - further increasing cardiovascular risk. How do you prevent this build-up? Prevent gum disease by caring correctly for teeth and visiting your dentist regularly. Likewise, it is essential for dentists and medical providers to educate patients on the increased risks poor oral health has on whole-body health.

Read more on the connection between cardiovascular disease and oral-systemic health here.

2. Alzheimer's disease

Poor oral health will cause inflamed gums. When bacteria leave the mouth and travel to the brain, they can kill brain cells, leading to memory loss. Oral bacteria from poor dental hygiene have been implicated in the development of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Pathogenic oral bacteria called spirochetes have been studied as a potential cause of Alzheimer's Disease. The presence and frequency of spirochetes are significantly higher in Alzheimer's patients' brains than in controls. Salivary diagnostic testing can detect the presence of these oral pathogens.

3. Diabetes

According to ADA, 37.3 million Americans have Diabetes, many unaware and undiagnosed. Diabetes increases risk for infection (including infection of the gums!) Periodontal disease makes it more difficult for the body to control blood sugar levels and can increase complications from diabetes or increase risk for developing Diabetes. 95% of adults with diabetes ALSO have Periodontal disease. 

**1/3 people don't know they are at risk for developing Diabetes! Learn more below

4. High-risk pregnancy 

According to a study done by BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth (view more here), women who had Periodontal disease were 6x more likely to give birth prematurely than women with no Periodontal disease.

Bacteria Fusobacterium Nucleatum, present in the oral cavity, has been found in amniotic fluid, placenta, and chorioamnionic membranes of preterm birth patients. 

5. Obstructive sleep apnea

One of the first signs of obstructive sleep apnea is teeth grinding; a sign dentists and hygienists should look for in all patients. Grinding teeth can cause cavities or inflamed gums, increasing susceptibility to infection. Sleep apnea is linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, and headaches. Collaborating with a medical and dental team can help. 

Other factors a dental medical team might look at when treating or diagnosing OSA are dry mouth, teeth grinding, TMD, 

6. respiratory issues

Poor dental hygiene and its connections to a higher clinical risk for respiratory issues is not a new idea. Bacteria in the mouth can be inhaled into the lungs or travel through the bloodstream. Are you seeing a trend here? Once in the lungs, bacteria can lead to respiratory infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, COPD, and lung disease. Working with your dentist and medical provider, especially if you have preexisting respiratory problems, can help reduce the progression of infection from mouth to lungs. 

7. cancer

There is a strong correlation between Periodontal disease and cancer. Pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, and blood cancer are just a few cancers people with poor oral health have been studied to show higher risks. 

Additionally,  smoking and chewing tobacco increase your risk for oral cancer. Early detection is critical to surviving oral cancer.  

8. Rheumatoid arthritis

John Hopkins studied the link between poor oral health and rheumatoid arthritis. Results showed a correlation between the bacteria Aggregatibacter Actinomycetemcomitans and Periodontal disease. The inflammatory response of joints in patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis is similar to the inflammatory response in a patient's mouth with Periodontal disease. 

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition. As we know, poor oral health can cause Periodontal disease, causing inflammation in the mouth that will eventually make its way to the rest of the body. 

9. Osteoporosis

Later stages of Periodontal disease cause a loss of bone tissue from inflammation and infection. Clinical studies uncover links that periodontal disease affects bones throughout the body, not just the jawbone and teeth. Research shows estrogen deficiency, low mineral bone density, and low vitamin D levels in both osteoporosis and Periodontal disease.

Salivary testing, dental checkups, and proper oral hygiene in collaboration with appropriate diet and supplementation can lower your risk of periodontal disease and bone loss. 

10. Kidney disease

Poor oral health leads to inflammation and infection that will travel through the bloodstream, making it more difficult for the body to fight off infections.

Kidney disease can lead to cardiovascular disease, another consequence of poor oral health. 

11. Prostate / Erectile Dysfunction

Can poor oral health affect your sex life? The answer is yes. Periodontal disease opens pockets for infection in the mouth. Bacteria and infection in the bloodstream can cause inflamed blood vessels, blocking blood flow to the genitals. 

One study showed that men with Periodontal disease were three times more likely to experience erectile dysfunction than men with a healthy oral cavity. 

12. Periodontal disease

Your risk for any condition on this list will be heightened at the first sign of periodontal disease.

About half of all Americans have some form of Periodontal disease, which continues to increase each year. Periodontal Disease decreases your ability to fight infection and inflammation while increasing your risk of severe systemic health consequences. Few people understand the risk factors for developing periodontal diseases and the consequences periodontal disease has on systemic health. 

The word "periodontal" means "around the tooth." Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, results from infections and information in the mouth. When the mouth and teeth are not adequately cared for, bacteria infects the tissue, creating inflammation in the mouth. 

Read our blog on The Stages of Periodontal Disease here.

13. Obesity

Obesity and oral health both share common risk factors. Diet plays a significant role in oral health. Without a proper diet, oral health is at risk, and therefore, overall health is at stake. While the causes of obesity can range from genetics to cultural factors, maintaining a healthy weight is essential in optimizing oral health. 

14. COVID-19

It's well known that systemic inflammation is linked to periodontal disease and respiratory diseases. COVID-19 is known to trigger an inflammatory response. In a Journal of Clinical Periodontology study, patients with periodontitis (the most severe stage of Periodontal disease) were three times more likely to experience severe COVID complications, ventilation, or death. 

15. Infertility

Additionally, poor oral health can affect fertility. It can take longer for a woman with poor oral health to conceive than a woman with good oral health. This doesn't end with women. Studies have shown that men with poor oral health can have lower sperm count and reduced sperm motility. 

Source: NIH

preventing Diseases Caused by Poor Dental Hygiene

Continuing research highlights the increasing importance of prioritizing oral health connections with oral-systemic health. How can you be sure if you or your patient has periodontal disease? Oral testing can show risk factors and inflammatory markers for developing periodontal disease. Proper cleaning and regular dental checkups can lower your risk. Make an appointment with an oral-systemic dentist from AAOSH or find an AAOSH dentist to collaborate with if your patient is showing signs of Periodontal Disease. Find AAOSH practitioners here.

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Additional Sources:

The Oral-Lung Axis: The Impact of Oral Health on Lung Health
Nathaniel T Gaeckle, Alexa A Pragman, Kathryn M Pendleton, Arianne K Baldomero, Gerard J Criner
Respiratory Care Aug 2020, 65 (8) 1211-1220; DOI: 10.4187/respcare.07332

Is There a Relationship Between Chronic Periodontitis and Erectile Dysfunction?
Fatih Oğuz, MDAbubekir Eltas, DDS, PhD Ali Beytur, MD
Ender Akdemir, MD
Mustafa Özay Uslu
Ali Güneş, MD

Gum disease linked to COVID-19 complications. Bdj Team. 2021;8(4):5. doi:10.1038/s41407-021-0604-1