Skip to content

The Link Between the Body and Dental Health

Dentists and medical practitioners have recently discovered the important link between oral health and the health of the entire body.

This discovery has lead to an innovative field of dentistry – medical dentistry. The mouth has been found to be a major indicator of many diseases, and poor oral health can contribute to diseases such as heart disease, stroke and sleep apnoea. Through both medical and dental treatment, measures can be taken to prevent and treat over fifty medical conditions associated with poor oral health.

The Complex Nature of Teeth

Teeth are not just simple chewing devices- teeth are the focal point of highly specialised sensory and functional nerve endings of the two most powerful cranial (skull) nerves in your body- trigeminal nerves. These nerves are responsible for major sensory and motor communication in the head and neck area, and therefore influence all body and brain functions.

There are many processes that can threaten the integrity of teeth (and trigeminal nerves). These can include:

  • Attack from bacterial plaque which can progress to tooth decay and cavities.
  • Trauma from injuries or accidents.
  • Sleep bruxism (tooth grinding in sleep).

Tooth decay, if left untreated, can become an abscess and pour harmful microbes (infection) into your bloodstream. This disease is called periodontitis (gum disease).

Gum Disease – A Serious Health Risk

As stated previously, poor oral health can have a negative influence on the overall health of the entire body. This link has been attributed to many serious diseases such as:

Heart Disease

Bacteria released into the bloodstream from oral abscesses and gum disease can contribute to heart disease. Sleep apnoea is another disease that is linked to dental issues, and can also contribute to heart disease. People with gum disease are almost twice as much at risk of having a coronary artery disease than those without the disease.


Much like heart disease; oral abscesses, gum disease and sleep apnoea can all be contributing factors in this disease. Advanced gum disease can increase the risk of stroke by over 50% in mature adults.


Diabetes has been linked with airway distress, sleep disorders and gum disease (which decreases glycaemic control), and so we recommend anyone with diabetes to have an orthodontic and airway assessment, and laser gum therapy. People with diabetes have an increased risk of gum disease, just as people with gum disease have an increased risk of developing diabetes.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Bloodstream infections from tooth abscesses and gum disease, along with chronic oxygen deprivation associated with sleep apnoea can be associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

One of the major contributors to poor oral health and the effect this has on the body is gum disease. It is important to note the symptoms of gum disease, and visit a dentist as soon as possible, as this disease is usually painless.

Symptoms include:

  • Bleeding gums after you brush your teeth.
  • Teeth that are loose or have moved from position.
  • Gums that are swollen or are receding away from teeth.
  • Bad breath.
  • Pus around teeth and gums.
  • Unexplained sores in your mouth.

The link between the body and dental health is an exciting breakthrough in the medical and dental industries, which can revolutionise the way in which many diseases and diagnosed, treated and prevented. To book an appointment with a dentist who appreciates the link between the body and dental health, please contact us.