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How Can Poor Oral Health Affect the Rest of the Body?

November 30, 2022
by: Dr. Ammons

At Ammons Dental by Design, most of our patients understand that poor oral hygiene leads to issues such as bad breath, tooth decay, and other oral issues. However, not everyone understands that oral health can have an impact on overall health as well. This is why it is critical to practice proper oral hygiene, such as brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash daily. In addition, you should schedule regular exams and dental cleanings so that we can detect problems early before they get worse.

Most dental insurance plans will cover an exam and cleaning every 6 months. Our friendly office staff will work with your provider to determine coverage for all dental procedures before we move forward with treatment.

How is Oral Health Connected to Overall Health?

Poor oral hygiene leads to poor oral health- which can lead to a variety of overall health issues. Bacteria enters your body through your mouth and travels throughout your body, affecting your various systems.

What Health Conditions Can be Linked to Oral Health?

There are several health conditions that have been linked to oral health, including the following:

Cardiovascular Disease

If you have periodontal disease, you are more susceptible to cardiovascular diseases, as the bacteria that causes gum swelling can enter your bloodstream, causing damage. It can cause plaque to accumulate in the arteries, which can harden and block blood flow- which increases your risk of a heart attack. Periodontal disease has also been linked to endocarditis, which is an infection of the heart lining.


Tooth loss, often the result of poor oral hygiene, increases your risk of developing diabetes by approximately 11%. Diabetes is a condition characterized by the body’s inability to regulate blood sugar- which can result in additional health complications. In addition, once you have diabetes, your risk of developing additional oral health issues, including tooth decay, gum disease, and more.

Pregnancy/Birth Complications

Women who are pregnant experience a variety of changes in their bodies and hormones, which can impact their oral health. When you are pregnant, you are more susceptible to gum infections, which means you must take immaculate care of your mouth. Gum disease can cause premature birth and low birth weight. Plus, any infections you have during this time can impact the baby’s health.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

The bacteria that causes inflammation in your gums can also lead to inflammation in other areas of your body. Therefore, patients with gum disease are at a higher risk of developing conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis as well. This is an extremely painful, chronic condition.


You’re probably already aware that poor oral health can lead to oral and throat cancers- but there are also other forms of cancer that can be linked to gum disease.

Signs of Poor Oral Health

There are certain symptoms that are common in patients with poor oral health, including:

  • Bad Breath: there are two common reasons for bad breath- 1. Bacteria buildup due to inadequate cleaning; 2. Gum disease
  • Bleeding Gums: typically, bleeding gums are due to inflammation- which could be due to poor oral hygiene habits or problems with your immune system. Always consider bleeding gums a serious warning sign.
  • Canker Sores: even healthy patients have canker sores/cold sores from time to time- but you’ll have more if your oral health is poor. If you notice that you’re having them frequently, be sure to let us know so we can determine the cause.
  • Dry Mouth: typically, dry mouth is not directly caused by poor oral hygiene but occurs alongside other symptoms. It may indicate that you have other issues, or it can contribute to other oral health issues.
  • Thrush: if you do not practice proper oral hygiene habits, you may develop issues such as thrush, which expresses as white, raised bumps on oral soft tissues. We typically see thrush in our geriatric and pediatric patients and those with weakened immune systems.

Best Practices for Oral Care

Dr. Ammons and the team at Ammons Dental by Design encourage you to practice good oral hygiene habits to keep your oral health- and overall health- in good shape. After all, your mouth is a port of entry into your body and if not properly cared for, can allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream. This causes inflammation in other areas, such as your lungs and heart.
Below are 6 tips for maintaining proper oral care:

  1. Brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste. When you brush, take your time. You want to make sure that you remove all plaque from your teeth. Don’t neglect your tongue. Even if you’re exhausted at the end of the day, it is critical that you take the time to brush your teeth.
  2. Floss daily to remove and prevent plaque buildup. If not removed, plaque leads to tartar buildup- which can ultimately lead to gum disease and more. Contrary to popular belief, flossing will not make bleeding gums worse. Over time, it will remove plaque and tartar buildup- which will reduce bleeding.
  3. Rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash once daily. This will help fight plaque and, if you use a whitening formula, can help make teeth brighter and whiter.
  4. Eat healthy foods/avoid sugary treats. Everyone has bacteria in their mouth and these bacteria need sugar to grow and produce acids that damage teeth. This can ultimately lead to tooth decay. Therefore, make sure that instead of reaching for sugary snacks, make sure you’re getting plenty of fresh veggies that provide your body with healthy fiber.
  5. Reduce/eliminate tobacco use. Tobacco products cause your teeth to become dull and discolored. Plus, it gives you bad breath and can cause dry mouth.
  6. Schedule a cleaning and exam with the team every 6 months. This allows us to do a deep clean and detect potential problems so that we can implement solutions before it goes too far.

When Should You See a Dentist?

The frequency of your dental visits vary based on a variety of factors, including your current oral health, oral hygiene habits, overall health status/medical conditions, and your risk for oral health issues. At the very least, you should visit every 6 months for a thorough cleaning and comprehensive exam.

Schedule your visit today with the team at Ammons Dental by Design. We have four locations to serve you: Camden, James Island, Downtown Charleston, and Summerville. Office hours vary by location. We look forward to working with you to improve your oral and overall health!

See What Our Patients Are Saying

  • "I don't think I've ever been to a dental office that has been this friendly and happy and it just makes you feel at home. It's been a wonderful experience and I certainly wouldn't want to go anywhere else."
    ~ Grateful Patient ~
  • "Great experience here. Been here for about a year and a half or something. My name is John Murphy. They do a terrific job in here and I'm very very pleased with their performance and trust what they do for me. Thank you."
    ~ John Murphy ~
  • "I came in today as a new patient and was surprisingly cared for. Everyone was very patient with me, as somebody who has a fear of the dentist and they took me through everything so I knew exactly what's going on and they put together an awesome treatment plan. I would recommend to anybody."
    ~ Happy Patient ~
  • "I love coming to Ammons Dental By Design. The staff is always so friendly and helpful and they make coming to the dentists office fun again."
    ~ Happy Patient ~
  • "Hi there. Very pleased with my care at Dr. Ammons. He has a modern facility with friendly people and happy faces and it's always a pleasing experience."
    ~ Happy Patient ~
  • "I had a great experience getting my implant done here. The staff and Dr. Ammons have been great and everything was virtually painless. I definitely recommend them for all your dental needs."
    ~ Implant Patient ~

Multiple Convenient Dental Locations Near Charleston

Ammons Dental By Design has four locations so you can find the most convenient office for your family.
1015 Fair St.
Camden, SC 29020
Monday – Thursday:
8am – 5pm
P: (803) 969-0365
F: (803) 432-2625
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14 Lockwood Dr,
Charleston, SC 29401
(Suite A on the exterior of the Ashley House Building, across from the marina)
Monday – Thursday:
7am - 4pm
P: (843) 380-2734
F: (843) 577-4464
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1739-B Maybank Hwy.
Charleston, SC 29412
Tuesday – Friday:
7am - 4pm
P: (843) 380-8889
F: (843) 990-9504
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1710 Old Trolley., Ste.B
Summerville, SC 29485
Tuesday – Thursday: 8am – 5pm
Monday & Friday*: 8am – 5pm
*Rotating schedule
P: (843) 380-8904
F: (843) 871-0617
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