of prescribed medications (Nabi et al., 2006; Uher et al., 2009; Weinberger et al., 2010).
Further, there is mounting evidence that oral health complications not only reflect general health conditions but also exacerbate them. Infections that begin in the mouth can travel throughout the body. For example, periodontal bacteria have been found in samples removed from brain abscesses (Silva, 2004), pulmonary tissue (Suzuki and Delisle, 1984), and cardiovascular tissue (Haraszthy et al., 2000). Periodontal disease may be associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes (Offenbacher et al., 2006; Scannapieco et al., 2003b; Tarannum and Faizuddin, 2007; Vergnes and Sixou, 2007), respiratory disease (Scannapieco and Ho, 2001), cardiovascular disease (Blaizot et al., 2009; Janket et al., 2003; Paraskevas, 2008; Scannapieco et al., 2003a; Slavkin and Baum, 2000), coronary heart disease (Bahekar et al., 2007), and diabetes (Chávarry et al., 2009; Löe, 1993; Taylor, 2001; Teeuw et al., 2010). However, the relationship between periodontal disease and these systemic diseases is not well understood, and there is conflicting evidence about whether periodontal treatment affects outcomes for these systemic conditions (Beck et al., 2008; Fogacci et al., 2011; Jeffcoat et al., 2003; Lopez et al., 2002, 2005; Macones et al., 2010; Michalowicz et al., 2006; Newnham et al., 2009; Offenbacher et al., 2006, 2009; Paraskevas et al., 2008; Polyzos et al., 2009, 2010; Sadatmansouri et al., 2006; Simpson et al., 2010; Tarannum and Faizuddin, 2007; Teeuw et al., 2010; Uppal et al., 2010).
Although there is a wide range of diseases and conditions that manifest themselves in or near the oral cavity itself, discussions of oral health tend to focus on the diagnosis and treatment of two types of diseases and their sequelae: dental caries and periodontal diseases. The most common of those diseases, dental caries, is a common chronic disease in the United States (Dye et al., 2007) and among the most common diseases in the world (WHO, 2010e). As mentioned previously, periodontal disease has been associated with numerous systemic diseases throughout the body from heart disease to diabetes (Bahekar et al., 2007; Chávarry et al., 2009). There is some degree of tragedy in this situation because both dental caries and periodontal disease are highly preventable.
Dental caries was described in the surgeon general’s report as “the single most common chronic childhood disease” (HHS, 2000b). Most people remain unaware that dental caries is caused by a bacterial infection (e.g., Streptococcus mutans) that is often passed from person to person (e.g., from mother to child). Aside from dental health implications, nontreatment of dental caries may be associated with several types of morbidity (both individual and societal), including loss of days from school (Gift et al., 1992, 1993), inappropriate use of emergency departments (Cohen et al., 2011; Davis et al., 2010), orofacial pain (Nomura et al., 2004; Traebert et