Teeth, Breath & Gum Problems

A woman having her teeth examined by a dentist

Tooth and gum problems can mean much more than bad breath

The teeth are connected to a lot more than the jawbone. That's why things like unhealthy teeth, or gums, can also lead to a host of bigger health problems.

When germs from your mouth get into your bloodstream, they can move to other parts of your body and cause infections. These germs have even been linked to heart disease, and if you have diabetes or another illness that lowers your body's ability to fight infection, the risks are even higher.

Studies have also shown a link between tooth loss and kidney disease. Also, pregnant women with gum disease have a higher risk of having their babies before they're due.

Stress doesn't help, either. People who are stressed or depressed have increased levels of a hormone called cortisol, which can weaken their gums and their overall health.

This WebMD slideshow covers more, but the bottom line is simple: if you have sore or bleeding gums, loose teeth, or unfilled cavities, see your dentist right away. If you don't have problems, keep up the good work! Brush and floss your teeth twice a day for the best dental - and physical - health.

Courtesy of Humana