Updated on February 23, 2024
5 min read

Why is Oral Health Important?

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Your oral health affects your overall health and vice versa. Having good oral health makes it possible for you to: 

  • Smell
  • Taste
  • Chew
  • Swallow
  • Speak
  • Smile

Oral health greatly affects people’s self-confidence and quality of life.

If you do not practice good oral hygiene, you are at a higher risk of developing serious oral conditions and diseases. Poor oral hygiene can also affect your general health.

6 Reasons Why Oral Health is Important

A healthy mouth is essential for a healthy body. Studies have found that oral diseases can impact chronic conditions.

Here are six reasons why oral health is important:

1. Oral Health Affects Nutritional Health

Oral health and nutritional health have a bidirectional relationship.9 What you eat affects your oral health, and your oral health affects what you can eat.

For instance, eating too much sugar is associated with an increased risk of dental caries. Too much acidic food and soft drinks are associated with an increased risk of enamel erosion.7,9,10

Periodontal disease can worsen in people who are deficient in the following nutrients:9,10 

  • Vitamins A, C, and E
  • Folic acid
  • Calcium

These studies also show that the state of your oral health can affect the quality of food you consume. Partial or complete tooth loss is associated with poor dietary intake.

People suffering from tooth loss are more likely to eat foods rich in refined carbohydrates, sugar, and dietary cholesterol. This is linked to conditions like coronary heart disease and chronic kidney disease.10

2. Periodontitis is Linked to Cardiovascular Disease

Periodontitis is a more serious form of gum disease, which can develop from untreated gingivitis. This form of gum disease is linked to higher rates of cardiovascular disease.1

Some researchers believe that smoking and an unhealthy diet link these two diseases. However, more researchers are growing to suspect periodontitis as an independent risk factor for heart disease.

They suspect that periodontitis increases inflammation in the body, which contributes to long-term inflammation and, eventually, leads to chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease.2

3. Studies Have Linked Periodontitis and Alzheimer’s Disease

Researchers from UIC College of Dentistry found that exposure to periodontal disease bacteria in mice resulted in neuroinflammation, neurodegeneration, and senile plaque formation.

These symptoms are similar to those found in people with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). The study suggests that chronic oral bacterial infections, like periodontitis, could influence the development of Sporadic AD.7

Another study found that the inflammation caused by periodontitis triggers a secondary inflammatory response. This can lead to neurodegeneration and the progression of AD.11

Despite the numerous studies on periodontitis and AD, more research is needed to determine if there is a direct causal relationship between the two conditions.

4. Gum Disease Affects Diabetes

Studies have found that periodontitis and diabetes have a two-way relationship. This means that gum disease can negatively impact diabetes and vice versa. 

People with type II diabetes are three times more likely to develop dental problems than non-diabetic people. This is due to excess sugar in the blood leading to excess sugar in the saliva. It creates the perfect breeding ground for plaque and bacteria.12

Periodontitis can impair glycemic control, which is the blood sugar level in a person with diabetes. Studies also found that the severity of other symptoms of diabetes is correlated with the severity of periodontitis.4 These symptoms include:

  • Retinopathy (retina disease)
  • Diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage)
  • Proteinuria (high protein levels in urine)
  • Cardiovascular complications

5. Poor Oral Hygiene Results in Decreased Quality of Life 

Many oral conditions affect both children and adults. Some conditions are minor, while others can result in more serious oral health complications over time.

Common oral conditions include, but are not limited to:

6. Poor Oral Habits Can Lead to Long-Term Problems

If left untreated, some diseases can result in tooth loss or permanent damage to the teeth and/or the surrounding structures (e.g., the gums).

Common oral diseases include, but are not limited to:

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How to Take Care of Your Teeth

Good oral health starts with proper dental care habits and awareness of daily behaviors. Brushing and flossing properly from a young age helps prevent oral diseases as you age.

Other factors that impact your oral health include:

  • Regular exams and teeth cleanings
  • Medical conditions
  • Nutrition

Stay on top of basic oral care practices to reduce the chance of developing a minor or serious oral condition. This is what a good dental care routine looks like:

Brush Your Teeth Twice a Day

Brushing at least twice daily is one of the most important oral care habits because it keeps the teeth and mouth healthy. Fluoride-based toothpaste also stimulates the gums, which helps prevent gum disease and cavities.

Floss Your Teeth

Flossing your teeth properly every day reduces the chance of cavities forming between teeth. It removes plaque and food from places your toothbrush can’t reach.  

Drink Fluoridated Water

Fluoride is a natural mineral found in soil and rocks that helps prevent cavities. Over the last 70 years, small amounts of fluoride have been added to dental materials to help strengthen tooth enamel.

The mineral is naturally present in some water supplies around the United States. Fluoride is also added to many municipal water sources with naturally low fluoride levels.

Whiten Your Teeth

Whitening teeth doesn’t have any oral health benefits, but it can positively impact your life. It can help increase your self-esteem, give you confidence, and get you to smile more.

There are plenty of at-home teeth whitening options, including LED whitening kits, teeth whitening strips, whitening toothpaste, and whitening mouthwash.

Dental Care Treatment Options

Depending on your needs and the severity of your oral condition or disease, you can receive care from the following:

  • General dentists provide preventative procedures and treatments
  • Specialists include dental surgeons, endodontists, and periodontists
  • Pediatric dentists treat babies, children, and adolescents
  • Orthodontists specialize in teeth straightening
  • Cosmetic dentists improve people’s smiles through teeth whitening, veneers, etc.

Last updated on February 23, 2024
12 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 23, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Sanz, et al. “Periodontitis and cardiovascular diseases: Consensus report.” Journal of Clinical Periodontology, 2020.
  2. Gum disease and heart disease: The common thread.” Harvard Health Publishing, 2021.
  3. Moharamzadeh, Keyvan. “Diseases and Conditions in Dentistry: an Evidence-Based Reference.” Wiley, 2018.
  4. Llambés, et al. “Relationship between diabetes and periodontal infection.” World Journal of Diabetes, 2015.
  5. Dou, et al. “The prevalence of dental anxiety and its association with pain and other variables among adult patients with irreversible pulpitis.” BMC Oral Health, 2018.
  6. Rogers, Nicola, and Pickett, Cinzia. “Basic Guide to Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.” Wiley, 2017.
  7. The Surprising Connections Between Oral Health and Well Being.” University of Illinois Chicago College of Dentistry, 2019.
  8. Sabbah, et al. “The Link between Oral and General Health.” International Journal of Dentistry, 2019.
  9. Nutrition and Oral Health.” American Dental Association, 2021.
  10. Gondivkar, et al. “Nutrition and oral health.” Disease-a-Month, 2018.
  11. Sansores-España, et al. “Periodontitis and Alzheimer’s disease.” Med Oral Patol Oral Cir Bucal, 2021.
  12. Diabetes and Gum Disease.” Diabetes UK.
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