Stroke and Oral Health

It is estimated that almost 75% of American adults have some form of gum disease1 and many of them do not know it. Untreated gum disease leads to poor oral health and can affect your overall health. Poor oral health can impact certain chronic conditions and can also be a contributing factor in one’s chance of having a stroke. While one condition does not necessarily cause the other, the contributing risk factors between gum disease and stroke may account for the conditions tending to appear together.


What are the risk factors that stroke and periodontal
disease share?

  • Tobacco/nicotine use (includes cigarettes, snuff, e-cigs/vaping)
  • Systemic diseases such as Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Poor lifestyle choices such as an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, overuse of alcohol
  • Heart disease and high cholesterol
  • High blood pressure and chronic stress

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United Sates. When treated quickly, the risk of death and disability from stroke can be lowered. It is very important to know the symptoms of a stroke and act quickly.


AAP SrokeOral June 18What are the warning signs for stroke?

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arms or legs.
  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding others.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

After a person has a stroke, he or she may often feel weak and uncoordinated. This can prevent maintaining good oral home care which can also lead to gum disease. Many of the medications for stroke tend to cause dry mouth which can also negatively impact oral health.


Prevention is an important part of avoiding stoke and gum disease. Have a conversation with your physician and dentist to know if you may be at risk for stroke or gum disease. Remember, a healthy mouth contributes to a healthy body and a healthy body contributes to a healthy mouth.


For more information about how the mouth and body are connected, or to understand your risk for gum disease, visit United Concordia’s Dental Health Center and take our Dental Risk Assessment.


1Myths About Gum Disease; American Academy of Periodontology; 2010


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