Tooth decay and gum disease are preventable conditions that can cause many health issues if left untreated. Prolonged oral infections can cause pain and difficulty eating, low self-esteem, and even speech and learning problems. They can also stress your immune system and lower your resistance to other infections.
Tooth disease is now the leading chronic infectious disease of children, surpassing asthma. More than 40 million children in the U.S., or 84 percent, have had dental disease by the time they are 17 years old.
In adults, tooth loss has been linked to dementia and poor pregnancy outcomes; tooth decay may also increase the risk of heart disease, and diabetes and gum disease together can greatly complicate blood sugar control.