Whole body Health
Oral health has often been isolated within health systems in many countries, separating the mouth from the body and underestimating the importance of oral health for general health. Many oral diseases share common social determinants and modifiable risk factors with the most common noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), making oral health a key indicator of overall well-being. In recent decades, evidence and understanding of systemic disease and the distribution of dental pathogens throughout the body has increased.
Understanding the two-way relationship between oral and general health
Oral health is a basic human right and vital to maintaining general health and a good quality of life. The Whole Body Health project is focused on raising awareness of this bi-directional relationship by acknowledging and promoting the latest research in this area. It also aims to encourage individuals and National Dental Associations to advocate for the inclusion of oral health into national NCD strategies.
Unfortunately, the wide spectrum of oral diseases such as caries, periodontal disease, dental trauma, dental erosion, and mouth cancer continue to be a major global public health challenge. Poor oral health and untreated oral diseases are associated with multiple health conditions including cardiovascular diseases and increased risk of stroke, and diabetes which have a bi-directional relationship with periodontal disease, each able to influence and worsen the other. Periodontitis during pregnancy is linked to low birth weight, preterm birth and pre-eclampsia.
In patients with chronic kidney disease, it may lead to a worse long-term prognosis. Further associations are known between oral health and osteoporosis, obesity, Alzheimer’s Disease, respiratory diseases, and rheumatoid arthritis and research is emerging that poor oral health may increase the severity of COVID-19.
Given the strong associations between oral health and NCDs, poor oral health should also be considered a risk factor for NCDs beyond oral diseases. For this reason, the Whole Body Health project strives to promote access to integrated care services that include oral health.
Raise awareness of the importance of whole-body health in oral healthcare.
Provide guidance for health professionals to communicate with their patients about oral-systemic disease
Encourage National Dental Associations to advocate for the inclusion of oral health into national NCD action plans and strategies
Whole Body Health Diagram
New research is constantly emerging that associates oral health independently with overall health. As oral healthcare and medical professionals, it is important that we understand the strength of this research evidence base and can communicate it to our patients and use it to advocate for enhanced and integrated care plans.
The FDI Whole Body Health platform is designed to share with you the latest research linking oral health with overall health and support your exploration of these relationships. Each health condition has been graded according to the strength of the supporting research (robust, emerging, early). The impact of poor oral health on the specific condition has been graded as “causal”, “worsening” or “association”. These terms are explained in more detail below.
We hope you find the platform enlightening, and as new research emerges this page will be updated.
Robust: a significant body of evidence exists to support this relationship that is accepted by both expert medical and dental bodies.
Emerging: strong evidence exists to support this relationship, but further research is required.
Early: evidence exists to support this finding; however, further research is required.
Causal: there is significant evidence to demonstrate that poor oral health (periodontitis) impacts directly on the systemic health condition and may contribute to its cause, course, or complications.
Association: there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that poor oral health (periodontitis) influences the systemic health condition, however, further research is needed to prove a causal relationship.
Worsening: there is evidence to demonstrate that poor oral health (periodontitis) can worsen the systemic health condition.
We acknowledge the limitations of the evidence base due to the limitations of the available studies
The Whole Body Health project is supported by Colgate.