Skip Navigation

Oral Health

Young girl with brown hair brushing teeth

Related Resources

Oral diseases ranging from dental caries (cavities) to oral cancers cause pain and disability for millions of Americans. The impact of these diseases does not stop at the mouth and teeth. A growing body of evidence has linked oral health, particularly periodontal (gum) disease, to several chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. In pregnant women, poor oral health has also been associated with premature births and low birth weight.1, 2, 3, 4, 5 These conditions may be prevented in part with regular visits to the dentist. In 2007, however, only 44.5% (age adjusted) of people age 2 and older had a dental visit in the past 12 months, a rate that has remained essentially unchanged over the past decade.


The Oral Health Leading Health Indicator is:


Health Impact of Oral Health

Oral health is an essential part of staying healthy. Good oral health allows a person to speak, smile, smell, taste, touch, chew, swallow, and make facial expressions to show feelings and emotions.6, 7 Poor oral health has serious consequences, including painful, disabling, and costly oral diseases. Millions of Americans are living with one or more oral diseases, including:

  • Dental caries (cavities)
  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Cleft lip and palate
  • Oral and facial pain
  • Oral and pharyngeal (mouth and throat) cancers

Gum disease, in particular, is associated with diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. In pregnant women, gum disease is also associated with premature births and low birth weight.6, 7

Many of these oral diseases may be prevented with regular dental care.

References

1Bensley L, VanEenwyk J, Ossiander EM. Associations of self-reported periodontal disease with metabolic syndrome and number of self-reported chronic conditions. Prev Chronic Dis. 2011;8(3):A50. Available from http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2011/may/10_0087.htm

2J Am Dent Assoc. 2006;137(suppl 2). Available from http://jada.ada.org/content/137/suppl_2.toc External Web Site Policy

3Barnett ML. The oral-systemic disease connection. J Am Dent Assoc. 2006;137(suppl 2):5S–6S. Available from http://jada.ada.org/content/137/suppl_2/5S.full External Web Site Policy

4Division of Oral Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Public Health Implications of Chronic Periodontal Infections in Adults. Atlanta, GA: 2005.

5Office of the Surgeon General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Periodontal disease and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General. Washington, DC: 2000. Available from http://www2.nidcr.nih.gov/sgr/sgrohweb/chap5.htm#pregnancy

6Office of the Surgeon General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General. Washington, DC: 2000. pp.33–59. Available from http://www2.nidcr.nih.gov/sgr/sgrohweb/home.htm

7Office of the Surgeon General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General. Washington, DC: 2000. pp.155–188. Available from http://www2.nidcr.nih.gov/sgr/sgrohweb/home.htm

Back to Top