Fundamental health awareness should begin with the mouth. When young, most people have great teeth and gums. But life experience and habits can affect oral condition more visibly detectable than in any other part of the body. As the point of nourishment, the mouth is the entry way to our biological system. So every person should understand how teeth and gums represent overall health.

Recently, more of these connections have been discovered by Dr. Nabil Bissada , chair of periodontics at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Dental Medicine, in his study of heart disease. He reveals oral health’s link to:

  • Heart disease— beyond cholesterol numbers, bad teeth express more.
  • Prostatitis— enlarged prostate gland that is reflected through periodontisis, both inflammations.
  • Arthritis— also inflammations, joint problems are linked to oral and heart conditions
  • Alzheimer’s disease— an inflammation of the brain, which also shows in gum disease.

Taking care of your teeth can improve these more serious conditions. And for those who are healthy, taking care of your teeth and gums will lower your chances of contracting periodontal disease and subsequent life-threatening troubles.

Dr. Bissada cautions:

If you’re too tired before bed to floss—or you’re thinking about blowing off your dental cleaning because you’re too busy—you’re not only gambling with your looks, you’re gambling with your well-being. Gum disease and a myriad of serious health problems are related; a terrific smile may be your ticket to a long (and healthy) life.