How your mouth influences your health from head to toe
A healthy smile improves social interactions, communication and the ability to perform well in work and school.1 But there are many more reasons to maintain great oral health. The National Academy of Medicine reports that oral health is connected to good overall health and oral diseases can exacerbate health problems outside of the mouth.
Links to other diseases
Poor oral health has been linked to several heart issues. Studies have found that oral health complications can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.2 People with gum disease have nearly double the risk for heart disease as those with healthy gums, according to the American Academy of Periodontology.3 Chronic inflammation from gum disease may also raise cholesterol levels. Poor dental health may also increase your risk of a bacterial infection in the blood stream, which can have an effect on your heart valves.4
Gum disease appears to be more frequent and severe in diabetics. In addition, people with gum disease have more difficulty controlling their blood sugar levels.5
Untreated oral diseases can lead to problems with eating, speaking, learning and productivity for children and adults.6 Oral problems can also lead to bad dietary choices that can damage overall health.7
Additional issues connected to oral health include a link between premature birth and low birth weight to expectant mothers with gum disease.8 In addition, American children miss millions of school days9 and adults miss an estimated 164 million hours of work due to oral health problems each year.10 And, mostly untreated, often preventable, oral diseases send more than 2.1 million Americans to the emergency room each year.11
Preventing gum disease
Gum disease appears to have a connection with many of these negative effects on overall health. And nearly half of U.S. adults have some degree of gum disease.12
Gum disease, along with most oral diseases, is almost entirely preventable. Be sure to brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily and visit your dentist regularly.13 With an oral exam, your dentist can potentially detect signs of more than 120 diseases, including heart disease and diabetes.14,15 Early detection can make treatment easier, less costly and even lifesaving.
14 U.S. Surgeon General Report on Oral Health 2000 – Chapter 3 – Diseases and Disorders
15 Application of the international classification of diseases to dentistry and stomatology : ICD-DA. World Health Organization 1995