Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Oral Care

Font Size

Oral Health: Insights Into Your Overall Health

Other Possible Oral Health Connections

Researchers continue to look for connections between diseases of the body and periodontal disease. Although certain links aren't as well established, there are some interesting developments and areas for further study.

Oral health and lung disease. Studies have found an association between gum disease and certain types of pneumonia, possibly from breathing in bacteria from the mouth. In fact, several studies have found that improving oral health can decrease the risk for pneumonia in nursing home and hospitalized patients. A 2008 study in Respiratory Medicine also found an association between peritonitis and COPD, which also share similar risk factors such as smoking.   

Oral health and osteoporosis. Periodontal disease causes bone loss that can lead to tooth loss. So, scientists theorize that having both osteoporosis and periodontal disease may lead to more rapid bone loss than osteoporosis alone would cause. While researchers believe there is a link, studies haven't yet confirmed it.

Gum disease and arthritis. A 2008 study published in the Journal of Periodontology looked at 109 people and found that those with rheumatoid arthritis were eight times more likely to have periodontal disease. There isn't an identified cause and effect relationship between gum disease and arthritis. But researchers believe there is a connection between the two diseases because they are both inflammatory disorders.

What You Can Do to Prevent Gum Disease

  1. Our mouths are swarming with about 400 species of bacteria, but only 15 of them actually cause gum disease. You can fight them in three key ways. Don't smoke. Smoking increases your risk of gum disease.
  2. Brush twice a day and floss once a day.
  3. See your dentist for regular cleanings.

"It's all about plaque control -- keep the teeth clean," says Kinane.

If you already have gum disease, talk with your dentist about the best way to keep it under control. "All the literature that we've looked at says that people who are diligent about not only cleaning at home, but who also come in for frequent checkups tend to slow down progression of gum disease the most," says Karimbux.

1|2|3
Reviewed on August 02, 2011

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

Get the latest Oral Health newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Never
(0)
Good
(1-3)
Better
(4-6)
Best
(7)

You are currently

Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

close up of woman sticking out tongue
Sores, discoloration, bumps and more.
toothbrushes
10 secrets to a brighter smile.
 
Veneer smile
Before and after.
Woman checking her bite in mirror
Why dental care is important.
 

Woman dissatisfied with granola bar
Slideshow
woman with jaw pain
Quiz
 
eroded front teeth
Slideshow
brushing teeth
Video
 

Variety shades of tea
Slideshow
mouth and dental instruments
Article
 
Closeup of a happy young guy brushing his teeth
Tool
womans smile
Video