We are taught from an early age that proper oral health is maintaining healthy teeth. The simple acts of brushing and flossing are instilled in us so that we maintain our “pearly whites.” Yet, oral health is much more than clean teeth. It involves the gums and their supporting tissues, the palate, the lining of the mouth and throat, the tongue, the lips, the salivary glands, the chewing muscles, the nerves, and the bones of the upper and lower jaws.
Recent research has indicated possible associations between chronic oral infections and diabetes, heart and lung disease, stroke, and low birthweight or premature births. In other words, oral health refers to the health of our mouth and, ultimately, supports and reflects the health of the entire body.
In 2000, former Surgeon General David Satcher released Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General, which highlighted the importance of oral health as the gateway to general health and well-being. He also reported that because oral diseases often present silently, it is most important not to neglect it as a major aspect of overall health assessment.