Did you know, tooth loss is not just a cosmetic problem? Tooth loss can be caused by a rough hockey game, but more often by gum disease or extensive tooth decay. Smokers are three times more likely to lose their teeth than those who stay smoke-free. What’s more, a study published in July of 2003 showed a significant relationship between the number of teeth lost and an increased risk for clogged carotid arteries – the blood vessels that carry oxygen to the brain. But, even a non-smoker who fails to take care of his teeth will likely deal with serious health consequences. In 2005, the American Journal of Preventative Medicine published a similar study that links heart disease to tooth loss in non-smoking adults, which signifies poor oral health as its own cardiac disease risk factor. In this study, the participants missing 1 to 5 teeth have a 6.8% increased risk for heart disease. For those missing 6 or more teeth, the risk increases to 10.2%. Consider your overall health the next time you skip that dental checkup appointment.