We all think we know the consequences of not maintaining a healthy mouth. The short terms issues may include yellow teeth, cavities, gingivitis and gum disease. Although the these may not seem life threatening, the long-term consequences of poor oral hygiene that lead to periodontal disease could be much more severe. In fact, studies have found that there is a link between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease. Although researchers are still unsure exactly how the two are related, findings suggest that an unhealthy mouth may increase your chances of having an unhealthy heart. It doesn’t stop there; gum disease has also been associated with pancreatic cancer. A New York Times article discusses a Harvard study in which men with periodontal disease were 63% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer. One hypothesis is that the inflammation caused by gum disease creates inflammation throughout the rest of the body and promoting the growth of cancers cells. These relationships aren’t only seen south of the mouth. According to Alzheimer’s Society, a recent study published in PLOS ONE has linked periodontal disease to the decline of cognitive ability in those with Alzheimer’s. It’s clear that an unhealthy mouth has much bigger consequences than just bad breath. By having healthy habits, such as flossing, brushing and visiting your dentist regularly, you may be contributing to the prevention of developing the disease later in life. The implications of not taking care of your mouth are not pretty, and science is proving the correlations between disease and our dental health more and more each day. The positive news is that you can make a difference if you start taking care of yourself and dental health today. The first step is to visit your dentist to access where you are; Dr. Bezbatchenko is there is to help, not judge. So what are you waiting for, your future good health is depending on you.