If cavities and bad breath aren't enough to make you floss and brush regularly, you can add heart disease, Alzheimer's, and other serious conditions to the list. Turns out your ORAL health may have a surprising influence on your OVERALL health. So, what do your teeth have to do with the rest of your body? Experts believe that infections-even small ones-can harm OTHER vital systems. Take heart disease, for example: It's thought that the bacteria associated with gum diseases, such as periodontis, can make their way into the blood stream triggering inflammation of blood vessels. While it's not the primary cause, this may be a contributor to heart complications or stroke. This potential link is still being researched, but medical experts feel you should keep dental hygiene a top priority. This same bacteria found in gum disease is also believed to significantly increase your risk of dementia and Alzheimer's. Again, some researchers have shown that once in your bloodstream, the bacteria may contribute to brain inflammation and a breakdown of essential neurons. It also works the other way around. Gum disease and tooth decay can be a SIGN of a BIGGER underlying problem like diabetes, immune disorders, blood diseases and HIV.With diabetes, poor blood sugar control can bring about a gum infection. And HIV can cause painful lesions in the mouth. If you have any changes in your oral health, visit your dentist as soon as possible.Tooth decay can also point to an eating disorder. Repeated episodes of vomiting - as seen in bulimia - release stomach acids that wear away tooth enamel and lead to gum disease and a specific pattern of tooth decay or erosion. And the self-starvation of anorexia robs the body of adequate vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy teeth and gums. Often a dentist can be the FIRST to diagnose an eating disorder due to the severity and patterns of oral decay. For more ways to protect your teeth - and your health --, check out the rest of the videos in this series.