Can Poor Dental Hygiene Make You Sick?

Can Poor Dental Hygiene Make You Sick?

We all know dental hygiene is important but do you know why? The reasons may shock you as it isn’t only to keep your mouth, teeth and gums in check but your overall health too. 

Here, you will find out more about what poor dental hygiene can do to your body. 

What is dental hygiene? 

Dental hygiene is the practice of maintaining oral health. By keeping up the cleanliness of your teeth and mouth, you will help to avoid problems in the future such as tooth decay and gum disease as well as other health problems. Many people assume that poor dental hygiene only affects the mouth, but this is a myth as there is plenty of science-backed evidence to support the understanding that dental hygiene is critical to your overall health too. 

Understanding dental hygiene and how to maintain it is important for your overall health and will mean fewer visits to the dentist, particularly for emergency dental treatment. With just a few simple steps, you and your whole family can have healthy-looking gums and teeth so you can smile happily every day and show off those pearly whites.

Why you should be concerned about your dental hygiene 

Dental hygiene is important not only for the sake of your teeth and gums but for your overall health. Without brushing, flossing or using mouthwash, food would stay in our mouths, stuck between our teeth, feeding the bacteria in our mouths and causing our teeth to decay. A mouth full of bacteria would also cause gum disease, ulcers and even tonsillitis, all of which can be very painful and result in the loss of teeth, as well as other health implications that might surprise you. 

By maintaining good dental hygiene you aren’t only keeping your mouth clean but it’ll help to prevent other illnesses too. Having any kind of infection in the body produces a response of increased production of white blood cells to fight the infection, which causes the body temperature to rise, sometimes resulting in fever, as well as painful glands and swelling in the infected area.

An untreated infection in our mouths can cause each of these symptoms, which can then cause inflammation of the arteries, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Some diseases can even be first spotted through problems in our mouths, such as diabetes which can cause lesions or infections in the mouth, so looking after our teeth and gums is essential for our overall health.

The impact of poor dental hygiene on your health

Not taking care of your teeth can have many consequences for your overall health and wellbeing, from the more minor symptoms of having bad breath, to the more serious consequences such as heart disease. 

Bad skin 

Can bad dental hygiene cause acne? Shockingly, yes! 

Most people are unaware of the impact of poor dental health on their skin, such as acne. Acne is a skin condition characterised by red, oily skin and spots covering the face, back and sometimes the chest, and there are many different potential causes of acne. If you have tried many different ways to get rid of your acne and clear your skin, but you’ve noticed that your oral health isn’t what it should be, this may be the factor that’s causing your skin condition.

The location of our mouths is a crucial component when linking oral hygiene and facial skin conditions. When we don’t keep our teeth clean, bacteria thrive in our mouths as it’s a warm and wet environment that is ideal for bacteria to duplicate and spread. This bacteria can then spread onto our skin, causing irritation and infecting our pores. If you have spots concentrated around your mouth that won’t go despite other remedies to clear your skin, your dental health could well be the issue.


Is cancer linked to poor dental hygiene? There isn’t a definitive answer, but it’s a possibility. 

There isn’t enough scientific evidence to clearly state that poor dental hygiene causes cancer, however, small studies undertaken in India and South East Asia do appear to show a link between poor oral hygiene and cancers of the mouth and oropharynx. 

However, the lack of research into the topic doesn’t mean that there isn’t a link between poor oral hygiene and oral cancers, so, as there is nothing to lose and many improvements to gain, it’s better to err on the side of caution and maintain good dental hygiene

Heart problems 

Can poor dental health affect your heart? Unfortunately yes. 

An infection in your mouth, caused by a build-up of plaque, can cause inflammation in your dental pulp as your body is stimulated to produce white blood cells to fight the infections and contain the bacteria. However, when untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of your body. 

Given the location of your mouth, between your brain and your heart and surrounded by some of the body’s largest and most important arteries surround your mouth. This means that bacteria from your mouth can easily spread through your blood vessels to your heart, spreading the infection.

Stomach problems 

Can poor dental hygiene cause stomach problems? Shockingly, yes! 

When we eat and drink, if our mouths are full of harmful bacteria, the food and drink wash the harmful bacteria into our digestive system, down our throats, into our stomachs and then pass through our bowels. This bacteria from our mouths that has been caused by poor dental hygiene, can then go on to cause stomach problems. 

It’s natural to have some bacteria in your mouth, in fact, some bacteria are necessary to keep our mouths clean and keep the so-called bad bacteria at bay. However, by not looking after our teeth, we allow the bad bacteria to spread in our mouths and wash into our gastrointestinal system. This can irritate the stomach lining as well as the sensitive inner lining of our intestines, causing pain and diarrhoea. 

How to maintain good dental hygiene

Serious dental problems like untreated infections can cause devastating health conditions due to the proximity of the infection to the glands in your throat as well as the blood vessels reaching your brain and heart, so if you have a sign of an infection, you should visit a dentist as soon as possible.

If this is you, it is possible to fix poor dental hygiene by maintaining good oral health practices. Here are some of the things you can do to help: 

  • Visit a dental hygienist 
  • Brush twice a day using a toothbrush that is intact and use fluoride toothpaste
  • Use interdental brushes and floss to clean between your teeth at least once a day
  • Eat low-sugar foods and drink water
  • Visit your dentist regularly for check-ups
  • Use mouthwash specifically for gum disease 

Visit a dental hygienist 

You may be wondering what a dental hygienist is. Well, a dental hygienist isn’t quite the same as a dentist. They don’t perform dental procedures such as fillings or tooth extractions so they can purely concentrate on the health of your teeth. A dental hygienist will clean your teeth and inform you of how to best look after them. 

When you see a dental hygienist, they’ll usually perform a teeth cleaning, which involves scraping away the plaque from the gaps between your teeth. Plaque is a result of the bacteria in your mouth that sticks to your teeth. This is perfectly normal, however, it’s important to remove as much of it as possible as it contributes to tooth decay and the formation of cavities. 

During a dental hygiene appointment, you will be given a professional cleaning service which is called scaling and polishing. 

They will begin by looking at your teeth and examining where the most affected areas of your mouth are. Then, they will scale your teeth to remove any plaque or tartar buildup. This can happen around those areas that you cannot reach with a brush, which emphasises the importance of flossing or using interdental brushes. 

Next, they will perform a clean and polish to remove any surface stains on your tooth. Please note that this process isn’t teeth whitening and for any deeper stains on your teeth, this process will not remove them. 

Sometimes your hygienist will use floss and an interdental brush to do a re-clean in between all the gaps of your teeth. Afterwards, your teeth, mouth and gums will feel super clean and fresh, so it’s something to look forward to on your next visit to the hygienist. 

Didsbury Dental Practice 

We are Didsbury Dental Practice, a 24-hour dentist, regarded as one of Manchester’s premier dental facilities. We have a highly experienced team offering a range of treatments including emergency dentistry, dental implants, teeth whitening, restorative dentistry and orthodontics. 

We are equipped with the latest state-of-the-art technology to create beautiful, healthy smiles in our tranquil surroundings, whilst delivering a level of patient comfort like no other dental practice.

So, can poor dental hygiene make you sick? Unfortunately yes. It can not only have a negative impact on your mouth but your overall health too from your skin to your heart and even your stomach. Make sure you follow the advice given here and visit your dental hygienist. 

Find out more about private dentists here: 

Are private dentists better?

The difference between an NHS and a private dentist 

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