Did You Know a Healthy Mouth Protects Overall Health?

It’s easy to think that what happens to your oral health is somehow isolated from the rest of your body, but this is far from true. Over the past few years, there has been an increasing number of studies into the impact of oral health on overall health and vice versa. The results are interesting, and while the exact link between poor oral health and general health isn’t yet clear, it does exist.

How Does Oral Health Affect Your Overall Health?

Even the healthiest mouth is host to hundreds of strains of bacteria, many of which are benign, but some are harmful. If you brush and floss your teeth regularly, most bacteria are removed. Problems can occur if you fail to practice good oral hygiene, allowing bacterial numbers in your mouth to increase substantially. 

These harmful bacteria feast on leftover food particles trapped between and around your teeth, producing acids that weaken teeth and toxins that infect your gums. These toxins and the resulting infection is especially concerning. Your body’s immune system tries to fight the infection, which creates inflammation. This infection and inflammation is called periodontal disease or gum disease.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Normally, healthy gums are pink and firm to the touch, fitting snugly around your teeth, but when infected and inflamed, your gums will become swollen and red and may feel tender if you press them. As your gums become increasingly fragile, they are more likely to bleed when you brush or floss. Another sign that your gums are in trouble is noticing blood on your toothbrush or in your bathroom sink. 

These are amongst the first signs of gingivitis or early gum disease, and ideally, you would come and see us at this stage. When our dentists at Tandara Dental can treat early gum disease, we can often reverse it entirely before it causes more substantial problems. 

If the infection and inflammation worsen, your gums will begin to pull away from your teeth, creating gaps between your teeth and gums, called periodontal pockets. At this stage, the bacteria can destroy not only your gums, but other structures around your teeth, including your jawbone. Advanced periodontal disease is a major cause of tooth loss; even more concerning, it can impact your systemic health.

How Does Oral Health Affect Systemic Health

Harmful bacteria normally confined to your mouth can enter your bloodstream as your gums start to bleed and pull away from your teeth. Once these bacteria enter your bloodstream, they can travel around your body, creating new sites of inflammation and affecting your systemic health. Researchers have linked severe periodontal disease to several serious health problems, some of which are listed below.

Cardiovascular Disease

The connection between cardiovascular disease and periodontal disease isn’t yet fully understood. It is thought that when mouth bacteria enter your bloodstream, they can increase the risk of plaque buildup in your arteries, putting you at a higher risk of a heart attack or stroke. 


Heart valves can become infected by mouth bacteria, a condition called endocarditis. People needing heart surgery are often required to visit their dentist first for a checkup, especially if they could have periodontal disease.


People with diabetes find it harder to fight infections like periodontal disease, but having this condition can make it harder to control blood sugar levels successfully as the bacteria get into the bloodstream. When blood sugar levels are not controlled properly, it can increase the amount of glucose in saliva, feeding the harmful bacteria that cause gum disease. Regular periodontal care can help make it easier to control blood sugar levels.

Premature Birth and Low Birth Weight Babies

Women with severe periodontal disease are more at risk of having a low birth weight baby and giving birth prematurely. It’s thought this is due to harmful bacteria crossing the placenta and affecting the baby’s development.

Respiratory Diseases

Periodontal disease has been linked to respiratory illnesses, including pneumonia, as there is evidence that mouth bacteria can enter the lungs, causing problems.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure or hypertension can be worsened by gum disease, as and may interfere with the medications prescribed to treat this condition.


Feeling stressed or anxious can impact your immune system by increasing cortisol levels, so you are less able to fight infections like gum disease successfully.

What Are the Signs of Poor Oral Health?

Poor oral health can cause various signs, including:

  • Red, swollen gums
  • Gums that bleed when you brush or floss or at other times
  • Persistent bad breath
  • A nasty taste
  • Changes to the way your teeth bite together
  • Painful jaw joints
  • Toothache or tooth pain
  • Inability to chew food easily

How to Look After Your Oral Health

Dental health in Australia is a concern as nearly a third of adults are estimated to have untreated tooth decay, and the same number have early signs of gum disease. There is some good news: once you have good oral health, it is relatively easy to maintain it and avoid common oral health diseases like rotten gums and tooth decay. At the same time, good mouth health will help protect your overall health.

Visit Us Regularly

A good preventive dental care regime is essential and should include regular dental checkups at Tandara Dental. Regular dental exams allow us to monitor your oral health closely, and to pick up any small signs of bad teeth, oral diseases, or potential mouth infections, often before you notice any unpleasant symptoms. At this stage, treatment is quicker, less invasive and helps preserve your teeth and gums. It is also easier on your wallet than leaving conditions untreated, by which stage you may need lengthier and more expensive procedures. Also, advanced periodontal disease can become chronic, requiring ongoing care.

How Often Should I See a Dentist?

Usually, we suggest most adults see us twice yearly for a complete dental examination and cleaning. However, some people may benefit from more frequent visits. Whenever we see patients, we provide an individualised preventive dental care plan based on their current dental health and overall health. For example, if you have diabetes, are pregnant or have other health conditions, we may suggest more frequent preventive dental care visits, particularly dental cleanings. Regular dental cleanings help eliminate plaque and tartar buildup that contain harmful bacteria, making it easier for you to fight infection and maintain optimum oral health.

Looking after Your Teeth and Gums at Home

Between dental visits, you must follow a good daily oral care routine. Make sure you brush your teeth at least twice daily, and daily flossing is especially important. Your toothbrush cannot remove the buildup of harmful bacteria and food debris between your teeth; these areas are where dental disease can often begin. Use good quality fluoride toothpaste and if you wish to use mouthwash, look for a brand that is antimicrobial or contains fluoride. It’s also important to take care of your overall health, ensure you eat a well-balanced diet, and exercise regularly.

Please remember you can always ask us for help and advice on looking after your teeth effectively. If you are ever concerned about your mouth health, we urge you to contact us, as treating any problems more quickly helps you maintain a healthy smile and general health.

At Tandara Dental Centre in Gosnells, we’re happy to discuss all of your care options with you, so that you can choose the one that’s best for your smile. Contact us today to schedule!