How does overall health affect your oral health?

photo of our hygienist and article author, Christina
Registered Dental Hygienist
Family Dentist Tree

Many patients have asked our administrative staff, “why do I need to update my health history form? Nothing has changed.”  So, we asked one of our hygienists, Christina, to help us understand what your health history has to do with your dental visits.

“I’m here to tell you that the information you provide us with on these forms can tell us a lot about your oral health. Your overall health can affect your oral health in many ways, a few of which I will discuss below.

A possible link between periodontal (gum) disease and the risk of heart disease has been studied for many years. Many studies evaluate the inflammatory response the body produces for those with gum disease and the effects this has on the arteries. More recent studies have shown that the bacteria that promotes heart disease is the same bacteria that causes periodontal disease. If you have heart disease, you may be at a higher risk for periodontal disease.

photo of health history forms

Diabetes can also play a role in gum disease. Research has found that those with poorly controlled diabetes have a higher risk of developing periodontitis or gingivitis than those without diabetes, or with controlled diabetes. Gum disease is caused by a bacterial infection in your gums, and because those with poorly controlled diabetes have a harder time fighting infections, gum health needs to be monitored closely.

Medications that you may take for high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and even allergies can cause dry mouth. Dry mouth contributes to cavities on the roots of your teeth and can cause discomfort throughout your day. Dry mouth can also lead to more serious oral problems if not treated in a timely manner, such as gingivitis and thrush. Other medications, for example Fosamax used in treating osteoporosis, can cause the mouth to not heal properly after an extraction, causing future oral complications.

Updated health histories and current medication lists help us understand your oral health, and provide the treatment that is right for you. If you have any questions about your overall health and how it affects your oral health, please ask us at your next visit!”


American Society for Microbiology. (2014, May 18). Gum disease bacteria may cause heart disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 14, 2014 from

Mealey, B. L., D.D.S., M.S. (October 2006). JADA. Vol. 137. Periodontal disease and diabetes: A two-way street.  American Dental Association. Retrieved July 14, 2014 from