Dental care and oral health information you need
from the Academy of General Dentistry

Thursday, October 17, 2019
Know Your Teeth Academy of General Dentistry Know Your Teeth


Importance of Oral Health to Overall Health


Oral health means more than just an attractive smile. Poor oral health and untreated oral diseases and conditions can have a significant impact on quality of life. And in many cases, the condition of the mouth mirrors the condition of the body as a whole. Recent reports indicate a relationship between periodontal (gum) disease and stroke, heart disease and preterm low-birth-weight babies. Likewise, more than 90 percent of all systemic diseases have oral manifestations, meaning your dentist may be the first health care provider to diagnose a health problem.


Reviewed: January 2012

Chapter: APTER_1289.1: What Problems Can Poor Oral Health Cause?

According to the Surgeon General's report on oral health in America, released in 2000, a large percentage of the population suffers from a reduced quality of life due to oral and facial pain. This pain is largely due to infections of the gums that can lead to tooth loss. More than 75 percent of the population is affected by some type of gum disease.


Reports show that infections in the mouth can affect major organs. For example, oral bacteria can travel through the bloodstream to the heart, where they can cause bacterial endocarditis, a condition in which the lining of the heart and heart valves become inflamed. Poor mouth care also can contribute to oral cancer. In addition, poor oral health affects the digestive process, which begins with physical and chemical activities in the mouth.

Mouth tissues reflect symptoms of other problems throughout the body. In addition, many diseases can be diagnosed in their early stages through an oral examination. These diseases may be characterized by swollen or bleeding gums, mouth ulcers or dry mouth. Some of these diseases include diabetes, leukemia, cancer, heart disease and kidney disease.
Reviewed: January 2012



Chapter: APTER_1289.2: Maintain Your Oral and Overall Health

Seeing a dentist every six months can help identify diseases in their earliest stages. It also is important to provide your dentist with a complete medical history and to inform him or her of any recent problems, even if they seem unrelated to your mouth.


A regular exam allows your dentist to keep your mouth in tip-top shape and watch for developments that may point to problems elsewhere in your body. A dental exam also picks up on poor nutrition and hygiene, growth and development problems and improper jaw alignment. Your dentist can also provide counseling on special oral health care needs, such as tobacco cessation.
Reviewed: January 2012