Oral Systemic Health – How the Health of the Mouth Impacts the Health of Your Body


Our dentist, Dr. Michael Fulbright, and the experienced dental team here at Fulbright Cosmetic and Reconstructive Dentistry understand that conditions of the mouth and oral structures have an integral link to health of the body overall. This mouth-body connection makes it critical for us to take a “total body wellness” approach to care. Paying attention to “oral systemic health” has become more and more vital over the years as researchers across the globe have found links between poor health of the mouth to a number of serious diseases and conditions throughout the body. Inflammation is well known to be a ravaging, disease-causing force, and gum disease as well as other oral diseases produce chronic low-grade inflammation in your body. This silent inflammation has a very damaging effect on just about every major organ system. Silent inflammation plays a big role in most, if not all chronic diseases.

Below is a partial list of conditions poor oral health has been linked to:

  • Alzheimer’s
  • Stroke
  • Heart Disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Autoimmune Disease
  • Complications with Pregnancy
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Arthritis
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Kidney Disease
  • Liver Disease
  • Depression

It is estimated that 50% of heart attacks are triggered by oral bacteria, and that an unhealthy mouth can lead to:

  • 3x increased risk of suffering a stroke
  • 7x increased risk of delivering an unhealthy, pre-term, low-birth weight baby
  • 62% increased risk of dying from kidney or pancreatic cancer

The following information will give you an idea as to how important your oral health is to your overall well-being. At Fulbright Cosmetic and Reconstructive Dentistry, Dr. Michael Fulbright and our skilled dental hygienists offer thorough diagnostic evaluations, advanced treatment options, and comprehensive patient education to help you reduce the risk of your oral health having a detrimental effect on your total health. If you have questions, please contact us today.

Gum Disease and Health

Most individuals will experience periodontal (gum) disease at some point in their lives. Gum disease is caused by infectious bacteria present in the mouth, and it is contagious. Bleeding is a sign of active infection. While regular daily brushing and flossing routines are extremely important, the fact is that gum disease can manifest even with the most rigorous oral health regimens. Just as poor oral health can cause disease in the body, the opposite is also true. Poor physical health, nutritional imbalances, emotional stress, and poor lifestyle choices can all lead to disease in the mouth. This makes it crucial to schedule regular oral exams and hygiene visits so that the presence of gum disease can be identified and treated as quickly as possible. Early intervention is always best.

While gum disease may often begin with no symptoms, more advanced stages of the condition can cause inflamed, painful, and/or bleeding gums, gum recession, loose teeth, tooth loss, chronic bad breath, and other symptoms. Fortunately, gum disease is a treatable condition. Our practice utilizes a multi-step, oral systemic health approach to prevent the progression of gum disease and reduce the serious risks this condition can pose to an individual’s overall health.

Comprehensive Oral Systemic Health for Care of Gum Disease

The battle against gum disease begins with good home oral health regimens, good nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices, as well as regular visits to the dentist for exams and cleanings. Taking the total body wellness/oral systemic health approach, our dental team will thoroughly diagnose the condition of your oral health by first taking a set of digital x-rays to identify any areas of infection or bone loss. We will then measure the periodontal pockets (the tissue surrounding the teeth) to see if any bacteria is hiding in deeper areas. Remember, your toothbrush and floss likely cannot reach all areas, so you may be getting a false impression that your gums are healthy if they do not bleed when you brush and floss. Measuring these areas during your oral exam can locate infection and bleeding in areas where dangerous bacteria often thrive. During the exam, we will ask you some questions about your health history, your family health history, and talk about the nature of gum disease. We will also ask about your home oral health regimen, your nutrition and lifestyle habits, and discuss steps you can take that may be able to improve or enhance them. Optimizing nutrition is key for oral health just as it is for total body health. Our hygienist holds a Masters Degree in Clinical Nutrition and can help guide and coach you in this area. The body has an amazing ability to heal itself, given the right nutrients in the form it can recognize and use.

At Fulbright Cosmetic & Reconstructive Dentistry, we are one of the few dental practices who offer oral DNA saliva testing and blood testing. In some cases, tests can be performed that can evaluate your risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, systemic inflammation, and nutritional deficiencies. If you are diagnosed with gum disease, we will create a customized treatment plan based on your needs and the severity of the condition. The treatment plan will ultimately depend on whether the gum disease is at the beginning stages or has advanced to a more severe stage. In many cases, gum disease can successfully be treated with a non-surgical periodontal therapy involving mechanical removal of bacteria and toxins, use of laser technology to remove diseased tissue and sterilize the pockets, and irrigating with antimicrobial medicine, allowing the gums to heal. Laser therapies are particularly popular among our patients, as they can provide effective reduction of bacteria and a healthy seal between the gums and teeth. They can also minimize swelling and bleeding after the procedure and result in faster healing. In order to keep the disease at bay, we may recommend that you begin using an oral irrigator such as the Waterpik® and/or a sonic toothbrush to enhance your home oral hygiene routine. We may also go over improved techniques for brushing and flossing and talk with you about nutrition and lifestyle choices. Certain probiotics, antioxidants, and nutritional supplements may make the body more resistant to bacterial invasion.

After Treatment

Once treatment is completed, our dental team will recommend an optimal maintenance schedule to keep you healthy based on your current condition and your overall treatment plan. Fighting gum disease and maintaining the health of your mouth is a process that can mean the difference between good overall health and bad. Your commitment and involvement is critical to your success. With regular check-ups and good home care habits, we can help you restore and maintain your mouth and your body to a state of health and well-being.

Gum disease is an epidemic. It has been estimated that 80% of American adults have some form of the condition, and its links to overall health problems have been well-documented. At Fulbright Cosmetic & Reconstructive Dentistry, our oral systemic health approach can attack periodontal disease head-on and help you renew the health of your mouth and body with comprehensive, advanced care.

For more information on oral systemic health and treatment for gum disease, or if you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Fulbright, please contact us today.