Why is dental health so important? There are significant links between dental health and overall health. Compared to other parts of the body, people often ignore problems with their mouths. It is estimated that nearly 48 percent of U.S. adults have some sort of periodontal disease. Bleeding and tender gums, oral pain, and mouth sores or infections are common problems which are often ignored but can affect not only a person's quality of life but their health status as well. Older adults need to be especially concerned about their oral health due to its relationship with systemic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, and the effect of some medications on the oral cavity. This year some 36,000 plus new cases of oral cancer will be diagnosed. Dental diseases like tooth decay, and oral diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis, cause pain, difficulty in chewing, gums to bleed while brushing and bad breath, as well as teeth to loosen. Gingivitis is the precursor to periodontal disease, which is an infection caused by bacteria that gets under the gum tissue. Good oral care, medication use and nutrition, in addition to regular dental checkups, play a vital role in how healthy your teeth and mouth will be.