The Connection Between Oral Health and Systemic Diseases such as Diabetes and Heart Disease.

Dr. Hoss Abar

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Oral health is often considered separate from overall health, but the two are closely connected. Research has shown that poor oral health can increase the risk of developing systemic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Conversely, having these conditions can also impact oral health. This blog will explore the connection between oral health and systemic diseases. We will also discuss the link between gum disease and diabetes, heart disease, and the role that good oral hygiene can play in preventing these conditions. By understanding the relationship between oral and systemic health, we can take proactive steps to protect both.  

How oral health and systemic diseases are linked?   

Many people don't realize the impact oral health can have on overall health, but the truth is that the health of your mouth is closely related to the health of your body. Research has shown that gum disease, also known as periodontitis, can increase the risk of developing systemic diseases and worsen their symptoms.   

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, individuals with poor oral health, such as gum disease, are more likely to develop chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. In addition, individuals with diabetes are more prone to oral health problems such as gum disease, tooth decay, and fungal infections.  

So why does poor oral health increase the risk of these conditions? It all comes down to inflammation. When bacteria in the mouth infect the gums, it can cause inflammation, which can trigger the release of substances that contribute to developing diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and others. You can reduce the levels of harmful bacteria in the mouth and inflammation with good oral hygiene. Moreover, it is essential to seek regular dental care to reduce your risk of developing these conditions.

Gum Disease and Diabetes  

Gum disease, also known as periodontitis, can impact blood sugar control in people with diabetes. Diabetic patients are more prone to gum disease due to changes in how their bodies respond to infection and decreased circulation in the gums. When bacteria in the mouth infect the gums, it can cause inflammation, making it harder for people with diabetes to regulate their blood sugar levels. This creates a vicious cycle in which uncontrolled diabetes worsens gum disease, and gum disease makes diabetes worse.  

According to American Diabetes Association, people with gum disease are more likely to have higher blood sugar levels and to experience complications related to diabetes. For example, gum disease has been associated with an increased risk of diabetic neuropathy, a condition in which high blood sugar levels cause damage to the legs and feet nerves.  

On the other hand, uncontrolled diabetes can also increase the risk of gum disease. Diabetes patients are more prone to infections, including gum infections. They also experience decreased circulation in the gums, which can slow the healing of gum tissue damage.  

Gum Disease and Heart Disease  

Periodontitis, often known as gum disease, has been related to an increased risk of heart disease. The connection is assumed to be due to inflammation, which is present in both illnesses. 

Gum disease causes inflammation in the gums, which can spread to other body parts, including the arteries. The inflammation caused by gum disease can contribute to forming plaques in the arteries. Moreover, it narrows the vessels and increases the risk of heart disease.  

In addition, gum disease can cause the release of harmful bacteria into the bloodstream. These bacteria travel to other parts of the body and contribute to inflammation. These bacteria can also contribute to the formation of clots, which can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.   

According to a study, people with gum disease are more likely to develop heart disease than those without gum disease. Additionally, treating gum disease has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and improve overall cardiovascular health.  

Gum disease and heart disease are closely linked, with each condition affecting the other. Good oral hygiene, regular dental check-ups, and effective management of gum disease are essential for preventing and controlling both conditions. Good oral hygiene can help reduce the risk of developing heart disease. People at increased risk of heart disease should be particularly vigilant about maintaining good oral health.

Gum Disease

Other Diseases Linked to Poor Oral Health  

In addition to diabetes and heart disease, several other systemic diseases can cause due to poor oral health. These include:  

  • Respiratory disease: Poor oral health can increase the risk of respiratory infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis. The bacteria you inhale can cause respiratory infections, especially in people with weak immune systems. 
  • Osteoporosis: Studies have shown that people with periodontitis, a severe gum disease, are more likely to develop osteoporosis. It is a condition with low bone density and an increased risk of fractures.  
  • Certain types of cancer: Some research has suggested a link between poor oral health and an increased risk of certain types of cancer, including oral, pharyngeal, and esophageal cancers. 

Poor oral health can increase the risk of various systemic diseases and conditions. This highlights the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups to keep the mouth healthy and reduce the risk of other health problems.  

Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene  

Maintaining good oral hygiene is essential for overall health and well-being. There are several critical components to good oral hygiene, including:  

  • Brushing: Brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste is the best method to remove plaque. Brushing helps to prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath.  
  • Flossing: Flossing is essential in oral hygiene as it removes plaque and food particles from areas between the teeth and along the gumline that a toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing helps to prevent gum disease and tooth decay.  
  • Dental check-ups: Routine dental check-ups are essential for good oral health. During a dental check-up, your dentist will examine your teeth, gums, and mouth for any signs of disease or decay. Your dentist will then clean your teeth to remove plaque and tartar buildup.  
  • Healthy diet: A healthy diet low in sugar, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins A and C is essential for good oral health. These nutrients are necessary for maintaining strong and healthy teeth and gums.  

In addition, it is also important to quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption. These habits can negatively affect oral health.  


In conclusion, the firmly established and recognized relationship between oral health and systemic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease exists. Neglecting oral hygiene can elevate the likelihood of contracting these diseases, respiratory illness, osteoporosis, and specific forms of cancer. Maintaining good oral hygiene, including regular brushing and flossing, dental check-ups, and a healthy diet is essential for overall health and well-being.  

It is important to emphasize that taking care of oral health is not just about having a bright smile and fresh breath. It also reduces your risk of developing severe and potentially life-threatening diseases. Good oral hygiene practices can help protect your overall health and improve your quality of life.

Contact your Pinole dentist, Dr. Hoss Abar, DDS, MSD at Abar Orthodontics, to learn more about Oral Health.


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