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How are oral health problems associated with general health?

The mouth is a window into the health of the body. It can show signs of nutritional deficiencies or general infection. For example, systemic diseases -- those that affect the entire body, such as diabetes, acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and Sjogren's syndrome -- may first become apparent because of mouth lesions or other oral problems.

The mouth is filled with countless bacteria, some linked to tooth decay and gum disease. Researchers have found that periodontitis (the advanced form of periodontal disease that can cause tooth loss) is linked with other health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke and bacterial pneumonia. Likewise, pregnant women with periodontitis may be at increased risk of delivering preterm and/or low-birth-weight infants.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.