What conditions may be linked to oral health?
Your oral health might affect, be affected by, or contribute to various diseases and conditions, including:
- Endocarditis. Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of your heart (endocardium). Endocarditis typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart.
- Cardiovascular disease. Some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.
- Pregnancy and birth. Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
- Diabetes. Diabetes reduces the body's resistance to infection — putting the gums at risk. Gum disease appears to be more frequent and severe among people who have diabetes. Research shows that people who have gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels.
- HIV/AIDS. Oral problems, such as painful mucosal lesions, are common in people who have HIV/AIDS.
- Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis — which causes bones to become weak and brittle — might be linked with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss.
- Alzheimer's disease. Tooth loss before age 35 might be a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.
- Other conditions. Other conditions that might be linked to oral health include Sjogren's syndrome — an immune system disorder that causes dry mouth — and eating disorders.
Because of these potential links, be sure to tell your dentist if you're taking any medications or have had any changes in your overall health — especially if you've had any recent illnesses or you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes.
How can I protect my oral health?
To protect your oral health, practice good oral hygiene every day. For example:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
- Floss daily.
- Eat a healthy diet and limit between-meal snacks.
- Replace your toothbrush every three to four months or sooner if bristles are frayed.
- Schedule regular dental checkups.
Also, contact your dentist as soon as an oral health problem arises. Remember, taking care of your oral health is an investment in your overall health.
May. 11, 2013
See more In-depth
- Brushing your teeth. American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/brushing-your-teeth.aspx. Accessed March 4, 2013.
- Diabetes. American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/d/diabetes.aspx. Accessed Jan. 31, 2013.
- Dry mouth. American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/d/dry-mouth.aspx. Accessed March 6, 2013.
- Krall KE. Bone health and oral health. The Journal of the American Dental Association. 2007;138:616.
- American Dental Association. Healthy mouth, healthy body. Journal of the American Dental Association. 2006;137:563.
- Michalowicz BS, et al. Treatment of periodontal disease and the risk of preterm birth. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2006;355:1885.
- Loesche W. Dental caries and periodontitis: Contrasting two infections that have medical implications. Infectious Disease Clinics of North America. 2007;21:471.
- Oral health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/LHI/oralHealth.aspx?tab=overview. Accessed Jan. 31, 2013.
- Casamassimo PS. Oral and systemic health. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Jan. 31, 2013.
- Periodontal disease and atherosclerotic vascular disease: Does the evidence support an independent association? A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2012;125:2520.
- Gatz M, et al. Potentially modifiable risk factors for dementia in identical twins. Alzheimer's & Dementia. 2006;2:110.
- What is endocarditis? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/endo/endo_all.html. Accessed Jan. 31, 2013.
- Eating disorders. American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/e/eating-disorders.aspx. Accessed Jan. 31, 2013.
- Sjogren's syndrome: Questions and answers about Sjogren's syndrome. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Sjogrens_Syndrome/default.asp#drymouth. Accessed Jan. 31, 2013.
- Medications and oral health. American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/m/medications-and-oral-health.aspx. Accessed Jan. 31, 2013.
- Oral health-total health: Know the connection. American Dental Hygienists' Association. http://www.adha.org/resources-docs/7228_Oral_Health_Total.pdf. Accessed Feb. 22, 2013.
- Coogan MM, et al. Oral lesions in infection with human immunodeficiency virus. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 2005;83:700.