Good Oral Hygiene and General Health: 3 Essential Links

Last Updated on: 14th June 2024, 01:15 pm

passport photo

Written by

Q.F. Nayibe Cubillos Morales


Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Gustavo Assatourians D.D.S

✓ Fact Checked 🕓

❙ Our team of writers, editors, and medical experts rigorously evaluates each article to ensure the information is accurate and exclusively cites reputable sources.

❙ We regularly assess how the content in this article aligns with current scientific literature and expert recommendations in order to provide the most up-to-date research.


Oral health is a fundamental aspect of general well-being; it goes far beyond having an attractive smile, directly impacting quality of life. It affects not only our oral functions but also our social interactions. In short, oral health and general health are intrinsically related.

Oral diseases such as caries, periodontitis, and other disorders of the soft tissues of the oral cavity can have serious consequences. The relationship between poor oral hygiene and severe diseases highlights the importance of maintaining good oral health.


What is the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene?

What is the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene

Oral hygiene is essentially a preventive measure. By taking proper care of your teeth and gums, you can prevent oral problems such as cavities, gum disease, bad breath (halitosis), and other disorders before they manifest.

Furthermore, there is a direct connection between oral health and the general health of the body. For example, an infection in the mouth can lead to bacteria moving to other areas through the bloodstream, possibly leading to other, more serious health problems, such as heart disease and stroke. Therefore, maintaining good teeth and gum health is not only vital to oral health, but it is also a critical component of long-lasting overall health.


What relationship exists between Oral Hygiene and general health?

Like other areas of the body, the mouth is full of bacteria, most of them harmless. However, the mouth is the gateway to the digestive and respiratory tracts, and some of these bacteria can cause illnesses.

The inside of our mouth creates the ideal environment for the growth of bacteria. Dark, warm, and humid, it provides the necessary conditions for microorganisms to proliferate, especially when they are supplied with nutrients through the foods and drinks we consume. This environment can have a significant impact on our oral health.

Normally, the body’s natural defenses along with good oral hygiene, such as daily brushing and flossing, keep bacteria under control. However, without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that lead to oral infections, such as cavities and gum disease.

Additionally, certain medications, such as decongestants, antihistamines, pain relievers, diuretics, and antidepressants can reduce saliva flow. Saliva removes food debris and neutralizes acids produced by the bacteria in the mouth, helping to protect you from microbes that multiply and lead to disease.

Studies suggest that oral bacteria and inflammation associated with a severe form of gum disease (periodontitis) play a role in some diseases. Certain diseases, such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS, can lower the body’s resistance to infection, making oral health problems more serious.


Risks of Poor Oral Hygiene

Risks of Poor Oral Hygiene

One of the main concerns in Oral Hygiene is the development of periodontal diseases. These are infections and inflammations of the gums and bone surrounding the teeth, mainly caused by the accumulation of harmful bacteria. Not only do they affect our mouths, but they also have a direct impact on our overall health.

What conditions may be related to Oral Hygiene?

Oral Hygiene can influence 4 diseases and conditions, including:

1. Endocarditis: The infection of the inner lining of the heart chambers or valves (endocardium) usually occurs when bacteria or other germs from other parts of the body, such as the mouth, spread through the bloodstream and attach to certain areas in the heart.

2. Cardiovascular disease: Although the connection is not fully understood, research suggests that inflammation and infections caused by oral bacteria may be linked to heart disease, clogged arteries, and strokes.

3. Complications in pregnancy and birth: Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.

4. Pneumonia: Certain bacteria in the mouth can be inhaled into the lungs, causing pneumonia, and other respiratory illnesses.

Additionally, certain conditions can affect your oral health, including:

● Diabetes. By lowering the body’s resistance to infection, diabetes puts the gums at risk. Gum disease is more common and severe in people with diabetes, and those with gum disease have been shown to have more difficulty controlling their blood sugar levels. Regular periodontal care can improve diabetes management.
● VIH/SIDA. Oral problems, such as painful mucosal lesions, are common in people with HIV/AIDS.
● Osteoporosis. This bone-weakening disease is linked to periodontal bone loss and tooth loss. Some medications to treat osteoporosis carry a small risk of damage to the jaw bones.
● Alzheimer disease. Deterioration of oral health has been observed as Alzheimer’s disease progresses.

Other conditions that could be related to oral health include eating disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, certain types of cancer, and an immune system disorder that causes dry mouth (Sjögren’s syndrome).

It is important to inform your dentist about the medications you take and any changes in your general health, especially if you have been sick recently or have a chronic condition, such as diabetes.


Risk factors that contribute to poor oral hygiene

Risk factors that contribute to poor oral hygiene

Several factors contribute to poor oral health. An inadequate diet can lead to the development of cavities and dental erosion. Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption not only increase the risk of oral cancer and periodontal disease but they also negatively affect healing ability and cause problems such as halitosis. Poor oral hygiene, on the other hand, is a key factor in the development of cavities and periodontitis and has been linked to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.


Prevention and Education

Prevention of these diseases begins with education about risk factors. Adopting healthy habits and an adequate oral hygiene routine is essential to maintaining good oral hygiene, and by extension, good quality of life.

Removing dental plaque through regular and adequate mechanical cleaning is the most effective way to prevent dental caries and periodontitis. This underlines the importance of an effective oral hygiene routine in preserving our oral and general health.


3 Connections Between Oral Hygiene and General Health at Any Age

3 Connections Between Oral Hygiene and General Health at Any Age

Children’s Oral Health

It is crucial to start positive oral care habits from an early age. Some tips:

● Visits to the dentist. Children should visit the dentist before their first birthday, ideally six months after the first tooth erupts, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
● Baby teeth and gum care. Start by cleaning the gums with a damp cloth and use a baby toothbrush when their teeth erupt.
● Prevent cavities. Due to eating habits and the shape of their growing teeth, children are prone to cavities. It is important to talk to your dentist about sealants and other preventive measures.
● Use of pacifiers. Although they can provide comfort, pacifiers can negatively affect a child’s teeth and gums.

Oral Health in Adults

Maintaining good oral health is essential throughout adult life. Important tips include:

● Avoid quick fixes: Home teeth whitening methods can be dangerous. It is best to avoid products that promise immediate results and may be harmful.
● Oral care during pregnancy: During pregnancy, the risk of cavities and gum disease increases. It is important to devise an oral health plan with your dentist.
● Time for oral care: Despite a busy lifestyle, it is essential not to neglect brushing your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes.

Oral Health in the Elderly

In your golden years, it is equally important to maintain a proper oral care routine:

● General health care: There is a connection between oral health and diseases such as leukemia, heart disease, and diabetes. A dentist can detect early signs of these problems.
● Listen to your body. It is crucial to pay attention to any discomfort and consult a health professional to prevent major problems.
● Keep your gums healthy. Knowing the signs of gum disease will help prevent tooth loss. Preventive measures such as a healthy diet and not smoking are key to good oral health.



Oral hygiene is essential for general well-being and quality of life at all stages, from childhood to old age. Maintaining good oral hygiene not only prevents dental problems, but it also protects against more serious diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. It is essential to adopt good oral care habits early and maintain them throughout life, recognizing the direct connection between oral health and the overall health of the body. Proper oral hygiene is key to a healthy and fulfilling life.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the importance of proper oral hygiene?

Maintaining optimal oral hygiene through regular brushing and flossing is crucial to maintaining the health of your teeth throughout your life. In addition, clean teeth allow you to speak clearly; taste, chew and swallow delicious and nutritious foods. A nice smile shows your feelings as a primary facial expression..

The key to having healthy teeth lies in the effective removal of dental plaque – that sticky, colorless layer composed of bacteria. If left unchecked, plaque buildup can lead to cavities and gum disease.

A consistent dental cleaning routine is crucial to keep teeth and gums healthy, and also to ensure their durability. The benefits of regular dental cleanings include preserving oral bone health, preventing and early detecting diseases such as oral cancer and other conditions.

Additionally, regular oral care practices, such as daily brushing and flossing, are essential to keeping bacteria at bay. Without proper oral care, bacteria buildup can increase the risk of oral infections, resulting in cavities and gum disease. Therefore, maintaining rigorous oral hygiene is essential for general health.

Poor oral hygiene not only increases the risk of cavities and periodontitis but it has also been linked to more serious conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Prevention of these oral diseases is possible through education about risk factors.

Poor oral health can adversely affect children’s quality of life, negatively impacting their academic performance and future success. Tooth decay is preventable; that students have access to preventative oral health services in the school setting is key to helping them stay healthy and ready for learning.



1. Cleveland Clinic. (Apr, 2022). Oral Hygiene.

2. Delta Dental. (n/f). Recognize the importance of oral health throughout your life.

3. Tadin, A., Poljak Guberina, R., Domazet, J., & Gavic, L. (2022). Oral Hygiene Practices and Oral Health Knowledge among Students in Split, Croatia. Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland), 10(2), 406.

4. Mayo Clinic. (Oct, 2021). Oral health: A window to your overall health.

5. Dental and Craniofacial Research Institute – NIH. (Oct, 2020). Oral Hygiene.

Scroll to Top