We have all heard the saying, “you’re never fully dressed without your smile.” I would like to add to that you are not completely healthy without good oral health -- not quite as catchy, but you get the point.

Our mouths are the gateway to the rest of our body and its functions. If our oral health starts to lack it can lead to serious health problems including respiratory issues, increased risk of dementia, and even heart disease and stroke. 

Oral health is the practice of keeping our teeth free from decay and our mouth free from infection, bacteria, and inflammation which can affect our overall health.

Some ways to maintain good oral health: avoid tobacco products, brush after each meal for at least two minutes, taking care to be gentle around your gums, floss every time you brush or at least once a day, and limit sugary drinks and snacks.

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Finally, if you have been putting off seeing your dentist, make that appointment today. We should get regular dental checkups at least twice a year. In addition to keeping our teeth and gums healthy, our dentist can also detect warning signs of other health conditions.

Here is more about some of the common issues linked to poor dental health.

  • 1

    Heart Disease/Stroke Risk

    People with periodontal disease are two times more likely to develop heart disease and arterial narrowing as a result of bacteria and plaque entering the bloodstream through the gums.

  • 2

    Greater Risk of Dementia

    Tooth loss due to poor dental health is also a risk factor for memory loss and early stage Alzheimer's disease due to increased inflammation which can affect the brain.

  • 3

    Respiratory Issues

    Bacteria from periodontal disease can travel through the bloodstream to the lungs where it can aggravate respiratory system, especially in patients who already have respiratory problems.

  • 4

    Diabetes

    About 95% of US adults with diabetes also have periodontal disease and one third of them have lost teeth.  This is likely because people with diabetes are more susceptible to contracting infections.

  • 5

    Erectile Dysfunction

    Men with periodontal disease are 7 times likely to experience erectile dysfunction than men with good dental hygiene.  This is because bacteria due to periodontal disease can inflame blood vessels and block blood flow to the genitals.

  • 6

    Risk of Premature Birth

    Doctors theorize that one of the main causes of preterm birth is infection in the mother’s body. One common site of infection is the mouth