Brushing, flossing not only helps keep teeth, gums healthy but also impacts overall wellness

In the last year, many individuals stopped getting their annual physicals due to COVID-19. It’s also been identified that along with annual physicals, regular dental cleanings and check-ups have been put on the back burner. It’s important to remember that dental health can impact your overall health, and if you’re needing to schedule with your dentist, here is some more information to help you make your decision. 

In the first-ever oral health report in 2000 (Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General), the Surgeon General declared that the “mouth is the center of vital tissues and functions that are critical to total health and well-being across the life span.” Simply stated, everything in the body is linked, which means healthy gums and teeth help keep our bodies healthy, too.

“Gum disease is the most chronic inflammatory condition in the world, yet it’s often a silent disease,” said Maria Emanuel Ryan, DDS, PhD, professor of oral biology and pathology at Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine. 

By combing through 1,000-plus medical histories, researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry found that people with gum disease were twice as likely as others to die from a heart attack and three times as likely to have a stroke.

Further supporting the need to take care of your oral health, the Mayo Clinic states that the mouth is the entry point to the digestive and respiratory tracts, and some of the bacteria that is found in our mouths can lead to diseases. Oral health and gum disease might contribute to some diseases and conditions, including:

  • Endocarditis – an infection of the inner lining of the heart chambers or valves, which typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of the body – such as the mouth – spread through the bloodstream and attach to certain areas of the heart.
  • Cardiovascular disease – some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.
  • Pregnancy and birth complications – studies have linked periodontitis (severe gum infection) to premature birth and low birth weight.
  • Pneumonia – certain bacteria in the mouth can be pulled into the lungs, causing pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.

Additionally, certain conditions could also affect oral health, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Eating disorders
  • Osteoporosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sjogren’s syndrome

To help you maintain good oral health, the CDC offers the following tips:

  • Drink fluoride water and brush with fluoride toothpaste
  • Practice good oral hygiene. Brush teeth thoroughly twice a day and floss daily between the teeth to remove plaque.
  • Visit your dentist at least once a year, even if you have no natural teeth or have dentures.
  • Do not use any tobacco products.
  • Limit alcoholic drinks.
  • If you have diabetes, work to maintain control of the disease. This will decrease risk for other complications, including gum disease.
  • If your medication causes dry mouth, ask your doctor for a different medication that may not cause this condition. If dry mouth can’t be avoided, drink plenty of water, chew sugarless gum and avoid tobacco products and alcohol.
  • See your doctor or a dentist if you have sudden changes in taste or smell.
  • When acting as a caregiver, help older individuals brush and floss their teeth if they are not able to perform these activities independently.

A detailed look at the oral health in the state of Indiana is available via the American Dental Association in the Oral Health and Well-Being in Indiana report.

Faculty and staff dental insurance

Taking care of your teeth and gums, is an investment in your overall well-being. Purdue offers Anthem dental insurance to all benefits-eligible employees. A breakdown of the options and coverage is available on the Faculty and staff dental insurance web page, including information on how the dental plan offers extra benefits if you have certain medical conditions. Individuals living with conditions such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, end-stage kidney disease others can receive extra dental services, including cleanings, gum maintenance, sealants and more. More information is available here.

To see if your dentist participates in the Anthem Dental Complete network, use the “Find a Dentist – How to find a dentist in your plan online” guide. If your dentist is not currently participating, you can nominate a dentist to Anthem by completing the Provider Nomination Form, then email or fax the form to Anthem as directed on the form.

More information on dental health 


Any questions about Purdue’s dental coverage, contact Human Resources at 765-494-2222, toll-free at 877-725-0222 or via email at