Links Between Poor Dental Hygiene & Major Health Problems


One of the main links between poor dental hygiene and serious health problems is inflammation. Numerous studies are beginning to show a connection that gives dentists more of an incentive to perform thorough dental services and encourage healthy dental habits in their patients.

It is important to keep in mind that the link between inflammation and seemingly unrelated health issues is not straightforward cause-and-effect, however, the following evidence can’t be ruled out.

Dental Bacteria’s Link with Atrial Fibrillation & Heart Failure

Poor dental hygiene has been linked with higher rates of bacteria in the bloodstream. Too much bacteria in the bloodstream is a factor in inflammation, something common in atrial fibrillation and heart failure.

Atrial fibrillation is when the heart beats unevenly. Heart failure is when the heart’s ability to contract and relax becomes impaired. A recent study involved 161,286 individuals ages 40 to 79. None of these participants had any history of atrial fibrillation or heart failure. This study showed that brushing teeth 3+ times per day over the course of 10.5 years reduced atrial fibrillation risk by 10% and heart failure risk by 12%.

Periodontal Disease’s Link with Hypertension

Periodontitis, also called “gum disease”, is a painful inflammation of the gums due to bacteria buildup. This bacteria has a direct route to the bloodstream where further inflammation can occur. In a recent study, the chances of high blood pressure were examined in people with moderate to severe gum disease. This study collected data from 81 different studies spanning 26 different countries, find that:

  • There is a 22% higher risk of hypertension in people with moderate to severe gum disease.
  • There is a 49% higher risk of hypertension in people with severe gum disease.

Inflammation is caused by bacteria in the bloodstream which, when entered into the blood vessels, can negatively affect their function.

Periodontal Disease’s Link with Obesity

Periodontal disease and obesity seem to be linked according to recent studies. People with the body mass index, waist circumference, and fat percentage to qualify as obese appear to be at higher risk for periodontal disease development.

Changes in one’s body chemistry alter metabolism which, in turn, can cause inflammation, according to studies. As Andres Pinto, a professor of oral and maxillofacial medicine and diagnostic sciences at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine points out, “Periodontal disease occurs in patients more susceptible to inflammation – who are also more susceptible to obesity.” He believes this new information on the link between periodontal disease and obesity can positively influence treatment plans for patients with periodontal disease, obesity, or both.


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