Brushing your teeth was always that annoying chore your mom made you do before you left for school in the morning and got in bed at night, right? It held no meaning whatsoever, and was nothing more than a bother.

If only you had known then how vital good oral health is to your overall health! You might have appreciated your mother’s efforts to instill such a habit in you. Due to recent studies and experiments, oral health has been linked to not only a broad number of medical issues, but also the development of stronger immune systems.

You wouldn’t have known it when you were a kid, but your well-being actually depends a lot on whether or not you brush before you leave the house.

Brushing Teeth Prevents Dementia

As it turns out, bad breath is not the only result of not brushing your teeth. Recent studies have now found that abstaining from brushing increases the risk of dementia.

With the increased buildup of bacteria in the gums and teeth, your body reacts to infections by inflaming the gums. This works as a temporary, healthy fix, but repeated inflammation teaches the white blood cells in your body to not work as hard.

As a result, they begin to move slowly and less efficiently, thus stopping fewer infections and responding to them more slowly. This leaves your body vulnerable to chronic diseases and ailments, especially those that develop in the brain.

Simply put, not brushing your teeth will damage your immune system. Makes that extra five minutes a day seem worth it, now, doesn’t it?

Treating Gum Disease Reduces Arthritis Pain

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which your immune system attacks your own body’s tissues, affecting the lining of joints. This results in painful swelling that leads to joint deformity and bone erosion.

Since rheumatoid arthritis usually affects the arms, legs and hands, it sounds like it has nothing to do with teeth, right?

In fact, a new study suggests that tooth loss may predict rheumatoid arthritis and its severity. The correlation is actually quite straightforward, according to one study: the more teeth lost, the greater the chance of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

The solution is simple: brush, brush, brush!

Saliva Washes Away Bacterial Infections

It might not seem so important when it’s accidentally flying out of your mouth, but saliva is one of the healthiest substances that your body produces, and performs many functions. Saliva cleans the inside of your mouth, lubricates the inside of the mouth to facilitate clearer speech, and possesses antibacterial chemicals.

A little-known fact is that saliva is really your body’s first defense against bacterial infections. Its chemicals dissolve bacteria from foods (and any foreign objects that somehow end up in your mouth, like the occasional fly) that could cause infections.

Saliva leaves your teeth and gums squeaky clean, and is the body’s natural cleansing agent. This is not, however, an invitation to stop brushing your teeth. Saliva is awesome, but it’s not invincible — give it as much help you can.

Gum Disease Can Indicate Chronic Conditions

Though thought to be completely separate, gum disease and other chronic diseases have been closely connected in recent years. Keeping your gums from becoming inflamed or infected was once thought of as an afterthought, but now is a priority.

Gum disease can be a clear indicator of heart disease in particular, as 91% of heart disease patients also showed symptoms of various gum diseases. Patients with each disease also displayed similar habits and lifestyles: unhealthy diets, excess weight and smoking.

A specific gum disease, Periodontitis, has been connected to diabetes. Diabetics have a decreased ability to fight off bacteria that attack the gums, due to their susceptibility to bacterial infections.

If you are experiencing pain, swelling or unusual bleeding in your gums, go see a doctor immediately. You might have gotten an early warning sign of a very serious condition.

Good Breath Increases Confidence

Nothing feels worse than having a conversation with a person, only to have them make a funny face or turn their head slightly to the side whenever you speak. It’s not easy to hide a dislike for someone’s breath, and nothing shakes your confidence faster than your own bad breath being noticed.

There are lots of solutions to bad breath, such as brushing your teeth, flossing and using mouthwash. While all of these habits will ease the strain on your social interactions, adopting even one of them will provide a big help.

Feeling confident enough to carry on conversations without constantly checking your breath is critical to maintaining any semblance of a social life. It’s hard to talk to a person with bad breath, even if they have something good to say. Make sure your bad breath isn’t forcing people to tune you out.