Can Not Brushing Teeth Cause Stomach Problems?

This blog post will address the topic, “can not brushing teeth cause stomach problems” and cover topics like what research says about association between poor oral hygiene and stomach problems, risks associated with not brushing your teeth, benefits of brushing teeth and how brushing benefits.

Can Not Brushing Teeth Cause Stomach Problems

Not brushing teeth allows an increase in accumulation of plaque on the teeth and thereby increasing the bacteria, Helicobacter pylori, found commonly hiding under the gums and causing stomach ulcers.

Not brushing teeth also leads to poor oral hygiene, that further leads to tooth loss and tooth sensitivity, making it difficult to properly chew your food and cause digestion problems.

Oral bacterial accumulation due to not brushing teeth leads to immune response that weakens the stomach and is fundamental in causing Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Poor Oral Hygiene And Stomach Problems: What Research Says?

Several studies published in well known journals, have reported a significant connection between poor oral hygiene and systemic diseases including heart and gastrointestinal disorders.

Recent studies have also reported the connection between poor oral health, disturbed oral microbial diversity and stomach cancers.

A Research Study reported significantly higher risk for gastric cardia adenocarcinoma in people who brushed their teeth infrequently and not daily.

A recent study published in the Journal Of Periodontology, reported increased risk of gastric cancer, especially cancer of the esophagogastric junction and intestinal-type gastric cancer, in subjects brushing their teeth once per day or less compared to tooth brushing twice per day. 

According to an article published in the Journal Of Oral And Maxillofacial Pathology in 2014, colonization of microbes and oral infection due to not brushing teeth and poor oral hygiene, may be associated with multiple stomach diseases.

The same study also found a strong positive correlation between poor oral hygiene, periodontal diseases and H. pylori infection of the stomach.

A follow-up study published in the United European Gastroenterology Journal, reported poor oral hygiene in 13% of the subjects suffering from gastrointestinal cancer.

The same study also reported an increase in the risk of developing hepatobiliary cancer, a malignancy of the cells of liver, bile ducts and gallbladder, in the subjects not brushing their teeth and with poor oral hygiene.

A 2001 published study concluded that tooth loss in old age shows poor oral functions and is associated with an increased risk of stomach diseases or gastrointestinal pathologies.

A 2018 published study in the International Journal Of Cancer found poor oral health and people with few teeth to have a heightened risk of stomach cancers.

A recent 2020 published article in the Journal Of Clinical Periodontology, concluded that frequent toothbrushing, thrice or more per day, results in good oral hygiene and may reduce the risk of gastrointestinal cancer significantly.

All these findings published in the reputed journals recommended daily toothbrushing to maintain good oral health and reduce the risk of stomach diseases.

The research findings clearly indicate an association between not brushing teeth, poor oral hygiene and stomach problems. 

What Are The Risks Associated With Not Brushing Your Teeth?

The oral cavity is the main entry point for all external objects including microbes into the gastrointestinal tract that includes the stomach.

More than 700 microbial species including fungi, archaea, protozoa and viruses are present in the oral cavity, essential in maintaining a proper balance between oral health and general health and disease.

Disease of the oral cavity occurs due to reduction of the microbial diversity and can lead to:

Cavities

Plaque is a sticky film containing bacteria that coats the protective enamel of your teeth. These bacteria produce acids by breaking down the food debris and the acids penetrate the enamel leading to cavities.

Potential tooth loss and other dental infections may occur if plaque is left undistributed. Brushing teeth twice can prevent plaque accumulation significantly and maintain good oral hygiene.

Gingivitis

Plaque can also weaken the gums and lead to gingivitis. 

The bacteria present in plaque causes gum irritation and increases the risk of bleeding and swollen gums.

Periodontitis

Plaque causes cavities and gingivitis and if left untreated, gingivitis may even progress to periodontitis

Periodontitis affects the tissues around the teeth and may contribute to tooth loss.

Heart disease

A study found that brushing teeth at least three times per day reduces the chances of developing atrial fibrillation and heart failure.

Previous studies have also reported bad oral hygiene to cause bacteria entering the bloodstream from the mouth and causing inflammation which further leads to atrial fibrillation and heart failure. 

Pregnancy Issues

A study reported a significant increase in gingivitis and its severity during pregnancy. 

According to the study, the calculus and debris accumulation also increased in pregnant women compared to non-pregnant women.

It is also reported that pregnant mothers with oral health conditions are more likely to have children that are more to developing cavities.

Diabetes

Several studies have reported Periodontitis to be a complication of diabetes mellitus. 

Some experts have reported Periodontitis to cause reduced insulin resistance.

Oral Cancer

Studies indicate that periodontitis might aggravate the growth of cells in the mouth, leading to oral cancer.

Benefits Of Brushing Teeth

Brushing two to three times a day increases the life of your teeth and reduces the risk of tooth decay, gingivitis and periodontal diseases.

A research study reported that the chances of developing malignancies decreases as the frequency of teeth brushing increases.

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, using a fluoride toothpaste.

What Does Research Say?

Frequency Of Tooth Brushing

It is recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA) and most dentists to  brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time with a toothpaste containing fluoride. 

It is recommended to brush your teeth twice a day, once in the morning, just after waking up and once at night, just before going to bed.

Literature study lacks clear evidence on the optimal time-point of tooth brushing. However, most studies recommend tooth brushing to be done after meals to reduce the impact of food impaction and plaque formation.

Best Time To Brush Teeth

While it is recommended to brush your teeth twice a day, in the morning when you wake up and at night before you go to bed, brushing at night is actually more beneficial. 

It is actually better to brush in the night because the saliva production reduces significantly at night. This makes the plaque formation and bacterial attack to your tooth enamel more significant and cause more damage.

During the day, saliva production is optimum. Saliva has antibacterial properties and also acid neutralizing action. Thus, plaque formation is not much significant during the day. 

Things To Consider Before Brushing Your Teeth

While considering when to brush your teeth, you must keep in mind the type of food you just had. 

Do not brush immediately after having any acidic food or drink as these acids weaken tooth enamel, and brushing immediately can cause enamel wearing or erosion making your teeth more susceptible to developing cavities.

How Is Brushing Beneficial In Avoiding Health Risks?

Brushing Prevents Plaque Build Up

Brushing just once a day, either in the morning or at night, does not remove the food bits that remain stuck on your teeth.

As a result, the food debris is attacked by the bacteria forming a layer of plaque on your teeth and gums. The bacteria breaks down the food and releases acid.

The acid released erodes the enamel and weakens it to form cavities and thus resulting in tooth decay and gingival bleeding.

Brushing three times a day after meals is essential to prevent plaque build up and thereby prevent tooth decay.

Brushing Helps Prevent Tartar Buildup

Tartar is a calcified plaque on your teeth that forms when plaque is left undisturbed for about a day.

Brushing thrice a day compared to brushing just once, removes the plaque before it hardens and calcifies to become tartar.

Tartar once formed, teeth become yellow and more prone to bacterial attack and decay and other periodontal diseases.

Brushing Prevents Bad Breath

Bad breath is often caused by volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs).

Anaerobic bacteria present on your tongue release these compounds, giving morning breath its characteristic stale, sulfur smell.

Brushing three times daily, preferably after meals, removes the anaerobic microbes causing bad breath and also maintains good oral hygiene.

Brushing Helps You Get A Whiter Teeth

When you do not brush your teeth for two or three times in a day, plaque build up occurs and the undisturbed plaque finally hardens to form tartar, giving a yellow hue to your teeth.

Eating and Drinking also allow accumulation of pigments on your teeth. These pigments give a yellow discoloration to your teeth. 

Brushing twice or three times a day does not allow these pigments to get absorbed in your enamel and thus prevents the yellow discoloration, giving your teeth a whiter look.

Brush For Healthy Gums

When you do not brush your teeth or brush it just once, plaque accumulation and acid production causes tooth decay as well as gum irritation.

The accumulated plaque may also result in periodontal diseases and cause gum bleeding.

So to limit plaque accumulation, acid production and tartar build up on your teeth and thereby prevent tooth decay, periodontal diseases and gum bleeding, brushing three times a day has been recommended by many studies.

Conclusion

This blog post addressed the topic, “can not brushing teeth cause stomach problems”. We understood what research says about association between poor oral hygiene and stomach problems, risks associated with not brushing your teeth, benefits of brushing teeth and how brushing teeth benefits in maintaining good oral hygiene.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs): Can Not Brushing Teeth Cause Stomach Problems

Can lack of teeth cause stomach problems?

Yes, lack of teeth can cause stomach problems like indigestion due to partially chewed foods.

A 2018 published study in the International Journal Of Cancer found poor oral health and people with fewest teeth to have a heightened risk of stomach cancers.

Can not brushing my teeth make me sick?

Yes, not brushing your teeth on a daily basis can make you sick.

Not brushing twice a day for two minutes each, leads to bacterial accumulation in the form of plaque and leads to poor oral health and reduced overall immunity.

It is reported in several studies that almost more than 90% of the systemic diseases show oral signs and symptoms and hence a clear indication that you can get sick with poor oral hygiene.

Which tooth is connected to the stomach?

The upper jaw molars and lower jaw premolars are known to be connected to the stomach meridian and any problem with these teeth indicates stomach problems as per Chinese traditional medicine sources.

Can missing teeth cause swallowing problems?

Missing teeth can cause problems in swallowing due to increased bolus size resulting from poor chewed food due to less teeth present in the oral cavity.

How do bad teeth affect your heart?

A study found that brushing teeth at least three times per day reduces the chances of developing atrial fibrillation and heart failure.

Previous studies have also reported bad oral hygiene to cause bacteria entering the bloodstream from the mouth and causing inflammation which further leads to atrial fibrillation and heart failure. 

Other FAQs about Teeth brushing that you may be interested in.

Can you brush your teeth too much?

Does brushing teeth after eating sugar help?

Why Do I Keep Getting Cavities Even Though I Brush And Floss?

REFERENCES:

Shakeri, Ramin, et al. “Association of tooth loss and oral hygiene with risk of gastric adenocarcinoma.” Cancer Prevention Research 6.5 (2013): 477-482.

Zhang, Tongchao, et al. “Poor oral hygiene behavior is associated with an increased risk of gastric cancer: a population‐based case‐control study in China.” Journal of Periodontology (2021).

Bharath, T Sreenivasa et al. “Molecular detection and corelation of Helicobacter pylori in dental plaque and gastric biopsies of dyspeptic patients.” Journal of oral and maxillofacial pathology : JOMFP vol. 18,1 (2014): 19-24. doi:10.4103/0973-029X.131885

Jordão, Haydée WT, et al. “The association between self-reported poor oral health and gastrointestinal cancer risk in the UK Biobank: A large prospective cohort study.” United European gastroenterology journal 7.9 (2019): 1241-1249.

Tosello, A., et al. “Oral functional characteristics and gastrointestinal pathology: an epidemiological approach.” Journal of oral rehabilitation 28.7 (2001): 668-672.

Lee, Kijeong, et al. “Oral health and gastrointestinal cancer: A nationwide cohort study.” Journal of clinical periodontology 47.7 (2020): 796-808.

Ndegwa, Nelson, et al. “Association between poor oral health and gastric cancer: a prospective cohort study.” International journal of cancer 143.9 (2018): 2281-2288.

Lee D, Jung KU, Kim HO, Kim H, Chun HK. Association between oral health and colorectal adenoma in a screening population. Medicine (Baltimore). 2018;97(37):e12244. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000012244

Sun J, Zhou M, Salazar CR, et al. Chronic Periodontal Disease, Periodontal Pathogen Colonization, and Increased Risk of Precancerous Gastric Lesions. J Periodontol. 2017;88(11):1124-1134. doi:10.1902/jop.2017.160829

Jajam, Martin, Patricia Bozzolo, and Sven Niklander. “Oral manifestations of gastrointestinal disorders.” Journal of clinical and experimental dentistry 9.10 (2017): e1242.

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