“When you have your health, you have everything.” We’ve all heard this quote, but have you considered just how important your oral health is to having good overall health?

When we realize how important our health is, making the connection between oral and overall health is an important, critical understanding. The results of good oral health habits can last a lifetime. Ignoring your oral health could lead to or contribute to chronic disorders, such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

The bacteria in your mouth are a primary enemy of your oral and overall health. How does it get there? The culprit is biofilm, more commonly known as plaque.1 Plaque builds up on your teeth as a result of improper brushing and flossing. It can also build on dentures, mouth guards and night guards, so it’s important to clean them according to your dentist’s instructions.

More than 500 known strains of bacteria have been identified in dental plaque.2 If plaque is allowed to enter the bloodstream it can cause the blood platelets to clot. This clotting reaction encases the bacteria, shielding it from your body’s immune system and from antibiotics used to treat these infections. Oral bacteria and periodontal disease are increasingly identified as contributing factors to chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease.

1 Dr. Sindelar, Dan. 2011. Refresh Life. Oral Health, the missing piece to add years to your life and improve your overall well-being.
2 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, 2000.