Like other areas of the body, your mouth teems with bacteria – mostly harmless. But your mouth is the entry point to your digestive and respiratory tracts, and some of these bacteria can cause disease.
Normally the body’s natural defenses and good oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing, keep bacteria under control. However, without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease.
Taking good care of your mouth, teeth and gums is a worthy goal in and of itself. Good oral and dental hygiene can help prevent bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease – and can help you keep your teeth as you get older.
Researchers are also discovering new reasons to brush and floss. A healthy mouth may help you ward off medical disorders. The flip side? An unhealthy mouth, especially if you have gum disease, may increase your risk of serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, poorly controlled diabetes, and preterm labor.
The case for good oral hygiene keeps getting stronger. Understand the importance of oral health – and its connection to your overall health. What does the health of your mouth have to do with your overall health? In a word, plenty. A look inside or a swab of saliva can tell your doctor volumes about what’s going on inside your body.
Your mouth is a window into what’s going on in the rest of your body, often serving as a helpful vantage point for detecting the early signs and symptoms of systemic disease – a disease that affects or pertains to your entire body, not just one of its parts. Systemic conditions such as AIDS or diabetes, for example, often first become apparent as mouth lesions or other oral problems.