What is Oral Systemic Dentistry?

What is Oral Systemic Dentistry?

Oral Systemic Health & Dentists

Just as the eyes are considered windows to the soul, the mouth is the gateway to the body. We use our mouths to eat, breathe, chew, talk, and many other things that are easily taken for granted. Oral Systemic Dentistry originated from the partnership between medical practitioners and dentists who understand that oral health is linked to overall health. Oral Systemic Dentists partner with patients and their physicians to examine signs of disease in the mouth to determine when they indicate systemic health problems.

Researchers have found links between the bacteria on teeth and in the gums, often called oral biofilm, and chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Mouth sores can indicate any number of chronic illnesses. Getting routine professional cleanings and examinations by an OHS dentist can be the first defense in preventing or minimizing the effects of these conditions.

Researchers have not verified the cause-effect relationship between oral biofilm and chronic illnesses. Still, studies have proven that reducing bacteria in the mouth correlates with less disease activity in the body.

Oral-Systemic Connection

It’s no secret that the medical and dental industries have remained largely separate for much of history. However, this division has had some unfortunate consequences, including the widespread misconception that oral health issues don’t affect the rest of the body. The truth is your mouth plays a crucial role in maintaining whole-body health – so you can’t be truly healthy without giving it the attention it deserves.

The connection between oral and systemic health is known as the oral-systemic health link, and it is incredibly important. Your mouth serves as a gateway to your body and a defense system against bacteria and other pathogens. So when it isn’t healthy, these other dangers have a greater opportunity to enter your body and weaken your immune system. Diseases such as cavities and periodontal disease are often caused by poor oral hygiene and can lead to other health problems if left untreated.

It’s clear that our mouths are a critical part of keeping us happy and healthy. This means we must invest time and attention into taking great care of them. With proper brushing, flossing, and visits to the dentist, we can maintain our mouths in a state of optimum health while reducing our risk of serious systemic diseases and illnesses – now that’s something well worth doing.

Oral-Systemic Health Explained

Regular research links oral health to the health of the whole body. This connection is often referred to as the oral-systemic health link. Because the mouth is often the first place bacteria enter the body, controlling bacteria in your mouth will reduce the potential for it to enter your bloodstream. Gum disease affects about 80% of Americans and is linked to health complications, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes complications, and dementia.

Germs in the Mouth

Plaque and bacteria can build up and enter blood vessels, then travel through the body. Some scientists believe that the plaque in the mouth causes plaque buildup in the arteries, thus leading to cardiovascular problems. Just as oral health negatively impacts overall health, conditions like diabetes can affect oral health. For example, diabetics often suffer from dry mouth. Without adequate saliva, bacteria can build up and lead to periodontal disease. Pregnancy, too, causes hormonal changes that can affect the gums and contribute to the development of gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease.

Preventing Oral Health Issues

  • Brush teeth twice a day using fluoridated toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  • Before brushing in the evening, floss to remove plaque and food lodged between teeth
  • Before brushing, use a tongue scraper or floss to dislodge plaque and germs on the tongue.
  • Never use alcohol-based mouthwash because it can dry out your mouth and, ultimately, allow more bacterial buildup.

Poor Oral Health

Poor oral health is a significant public health concern, with cavities and gum disease being two of the most common dental issues. Cavities, or tooth decay, are bacterial infections of the hard tissues of your teeth caused by plaque buildup. This sticky white substance comprises bacteria that feed on sugar from your diet, releasing an acid that weakens and softens your enamel over time. Gum disease, known medically as periodontitis, is another bacterial infection caused by plaque. The toxins these bacteria produce can irritate and inflame the gum tissue, leading to further damage if left untreated.

Fortunately, awareness about oral health and preventive care has increased in recent years, making it easier for people to take responsibility for their dental health. Regular brushing and flossing and check-ups with a dentist make it possible to reduce the risk of cavities and gum disease and enjoy better oral health.

Poor Oral Health Consequences

The consequences of poor oral health can be far-reaching and impact more than just the mouth. Poor dental hygiene can affect your teeth and gums and even lead to tooth loss. Toothache is a common symptom of cavities, but not all cavities pain, which means you may have severe dental issues without realizing it.

When you lose teeth, this can cause several other drawbacks. For example, the remaining teeth must pick up the extra work put on them by the missing tooth, leading to increased wear and tear or even a shift in positions. This can result in additional gum recession, fracturing of adjacent teeth, or even further tooth loss. Also, losing one or more teeth can impact your cosmetic appearance, making your smile look less complete and affecting your face’s shape.

Furthermore, since chewing is important for proper digestion, patients who have experienced multiple tooth loss can suffer from digestive issues because large food particles are reaching their stomach without being properly chewed.

All of these consequences emphasize the importance of practicing good oral hygiene. Regular appointments with a dentist and cleaning of the teeth can help ensure that any issues are being spotted early on and treated accordingly.

Systemic Consequences of Poor Oral Health

It is essential to understand the systemic consequences of poor oral health. Poor oral hygiene can result in infectious and inflammatory diseases within the mouth, which may also spread to other parts of the body, potentially leading to fatalities in extreme cases. Severe periodontal disease, a chronic tissue inflammation, has weakened the immune system and increased an individual’s risk of cancer. Furthermore, recent research indicates a connection between systemic diseases such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s and dental health. Bacteria found in gum disease have even been detected in parts of the body such as the heart, spinal column, and brain.

Studies demonstrate a relationship between poor oral health during pregnancy and low birth weight in babies. It is, therefore, critical for women expecting to take extra care to ensure their dental health is in good condition.

In conclusion, it cannot be overstated how vital it is to practice proper oral hygiene; not only does this preserve our overall health, but its systemic repercussions could also prove life-saving.

Specific related conditions

Microbiologist, Anne O. Rice, PhD has suggested a bidirectional relationship exists between diabetes and periodontal disease. It is estimated that 37.3 million Americans, more than 11% of the population, have diabetes, with 8.5 million undiagnosed. Furthermore, periodontal pathogen burden has been linked to coronary syndrome (ACS) and subclinical atherosclerosis.

Meanwhile, rheumatoid arthritis and poor pregnancy outcomes have both been studied in relation to the oral microbiome. Moreover, an infection from human papillomavirus (HPV) increases the risk of mouth and throat cancers. At the same time, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s may also be connected to the oral microbiome.

Dr. Rice has discussed the importance of sharing this knowledge to equip medical providers with the ability to help patients achieve longer and healthier lives. By ensuring that both medical establishments and the general public are informed about this connection, it may benefit those who lack access to oral care. As such, further education in this field is essential.


Nazir MA, Izhar F, Akhtar K, Almas K. Dentists’ awareness about the link between oral and systemic health. J Family Community Med. 2019;26(3):206-212. doi:10.4103/jfcm.JFCM_55_19

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