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Oral Health and Other Medical Conditions

Research has indicated that monitoring a person's oral health can aid early identification of certain chronic medical conditions. People with certain pre-existing medical conditions, including pregnant women, require special treatment and attention to oral health.

Heart Disease and Stroke

Cardiovascular disease, primarily heart disease and stroke, is the leading cause of death for men and women in the Unites States, accounting for 40% of all deaths. Research has suggested that people with periodontal disease (gum disease) may be more likely to develop heart disease or stroke. Gum disease may also cause existing heart conditions to worsen.


Oral health can be a significant complicating factor for individuals with diabetes. Periodontal problems can complicate the management of diabetes and poorly controlled diabetes may also worsen gum disease. Studies have shown that individuals with Type I or Type II diabetes are more susceptible to gum disease, and that individuals with Type I or Type II diabetes can suffer from greater tooth loss than people without diabetes. Severe gum disease can increase blood sugar levels, putting people with diabetes at risk for additional diabetes-related complications.


The health status of people with HIV is likely to be complicated, and can change rapidly. If you are infected with HIV, it is important that your dental professional receive all the necessary medical information to make the correct decisions regarding your dental care. Your dental professional may have specific concerns relating to infections, drug interactions, stoppage of blood flow, and your ability to tolerate certain dental treatments.


The link between oral health and poor nutrition, particularly excessive eating of sugary food and beverages, may have important implications on the rising amounts of obesity among children and adolescents in the United States. Recently, several states have begun to focus attention on the connections between increased soda consumption, rising rates of dental cavities, and obesity among children and adolescents. Heavy consumption of soft drinks can lead to cavities and tooth erosion. Such consumption is also tied to excessive intake of sugar, which may be associated with obesity and Type II diabetes in children.

Oral Cancer

Risk factors for oral cancer include smoking, excessive alcohol use, and a family history of cancer. Oral cancer can also develop in people with none of these risk factors. Indicators of oral cancer include lesions or sores in the mouth that do not heal normally, or lumps in the mouth or cheek. Your dental professional can easily and painlessly check you mouth for signs of oral cancer, particularly if you have any of the risk factors mentioned above.

Low Birth Weight

Research has shown that pregnant women with gum disease are more likely to have children with preterm low birth weight.


Find more information on oral health care for pregnant women.


See Also