What a Healthy Mouth Says About Your Overall Health

Staying healthy can sometimes seem like a full-time job. Eating nutritious meals, exercising regularly and scheduling annual doctor visits are all important steps to implement, but it can be overwhelming. One piece of your health plan that might be unintentionally neglected is oral care. Having a healthy mouth is generally a sign of good overall health. The opposite is true as well, as certain medical conditions have symptoms that show up in your mouth. Here are some medical conditions that could drastically affect what's going on in your mouth.

Gum Disease

One medical condition that has a direct effect on the mouth is gum disease. It's often painless, so you can have it and not even realize it. Gum disease has three stages: gingivitis, periodontitis and advanced periodontitis. A dentist can diagnose what stage you're experiencing. Here are seven symptoms to look for:

  1. Gums that bleed from brushing and flossing

  2. Red and swollen gums

  3. Receding gums

  4. Loose teeth

  5. Suppuration (pus) at the gumline

  6. Chronic bad breath

  7. A change in the alignment of your teeth

Heart Disease

This serious condition doesn't discriminate between men and women. Moderate to advanced gum disease makes a person more susceptible to heart disease. Bacteria and other germs are spread from the mouth to other areas of the body via blood flow, and bacteria that collect in the heart can cause damage and inflammation. To protect your heart, proper oral health is vital.


Diabetes results from having an excess of blood sugar (glucose) in your blood. But when treated successfully, says the American Dental Association (ADA), diabetes will have minimal effect on oral health. When it's not under control, a slew of issues can arise, including periodontal disease, gingivitis, dry mouth, thrush and burning mouth or tongue. When you neglect your teeth, it may make dealing with diabetes that much harder.


Each year, 1.2 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer, according to the ADA. Approximately 400,000 of those people will have some sort of oral health complications resulting from chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Battling any form of cancer is a monumental task, so make sure good oral care is part of your overall treatment to alleviate some of that stress. You may experience dry mouth, inflamed mouth tissue, oral bleeding, a shift in your ability to eat, swallow and speak, or a change in taste.

How to Ensure Good Oral Hygiene

Having good oral hygiene seems simple to determine but there are signs to look for that reveal whether you have a healthy mouth or not. Three of the most common signs of a healthy mouth are the absence of chronic bad breath, gums that are pink and no bleeding after brushing or flossing. If you have conditions of an unhealthy mouth, consult your dentist.

Overall health is more than just a product of what's going on in your mouth. There's plenty you can do to maintain a healthy mouth regardless of other medical conditions. First and foremost, remember your dentist is an ally in the fight against tooth decay and other oral issues. Be sure to schedule regular visits for cleanings to check for problems. And if something feels wrong with your mouth, call your dentist. The rest of the work starts with you. Oral care should be a daily habit, so brush two to three times a day and don't forget to floss. Use the Colgate® Wave ZigZag® Toothbrush for all of those hard to reach areas where food particles can hide. You only get one set of teeth (and one body), so be kind to them.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Common Conditions During ADULTHOOD

As we get older, dental care for adults is crucial. Here are a few of the conditions to be aware of:

Gum disease – if your home care routine of brushing and flossing has slipped and you have skipped your regular dental cleanings, bacterial plaque and tartar can build up on your teeth. The plaque and tartar, if left untreated, may eventually cause irreparable damage to your jawbone and support structures, and could lead to tooth loss.

Oral cancer – according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, men over the age of 40 have the greatest risk for oral cancer. About approximately 43,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, tongue or throat area, and the ACS estimates that about 7,000 people will die from these cancers. The use of tobacco products and alcohol increases the risk of oral cancer. Most oral cancers are first diagnosed by the dentist during a routine checkup.

Dental fillings break down – fillings have a life expectancy of eight to 10 years. However, they can last 20 years or longer. When the fillings in your mouth start to break down, food and bacteria can get underneath them and can cause decay deep in the tooth.