What does that mean – in essence, what I am saying is that if your mouth is unhealthy, has an untreated disease, inflammation or infection then it is increasing your risk for ill health and is already making you sick.
Did you know that gum disease (red, bleeding and swollen gums) allows harmful bacteria to spread from your mouth to the rest of your body? Gum disease means your gums are inflamed and infected, the same blood that flows through your gums flows through your whole body and that means if you have inflammation in your mouth you have it everywhere.
Inflammation is the trigger to many of our chronic and life threating health conditions like heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, dementia and cancers.
As a dentist, I have the unique opportunity of looking inside your mouth and being able to see the condition of the inside of your body. I also get to look for and spot the warning signs of inflammation and disease that are contributing to or setting you up for these chronic systemic health issues. I can also look at your mouth and know if you are unhealthy or have systemic disease.
The mouth is a window into the health of the body. It can show signs of nutritional deficiencies or general infection. Systemic diseases – those that affect the entire body, such as diabetes, blood cancers, and more can be detected by looking at the health of the mouth due to the presence of mouth lesions or other problems like bleeding and swollen gums.
I have lost count of the number of patients I’ve seen where their mouth health triggered alarm bells and after blood tests and seeking medical care they were diagnosed as diabetic, pre-diabetic, anaemic or lacking in nutrients, having hormonal imbalances and sadly in a few cases leukemia.
The mouth is filled with countless bacteria, some linked to tooth decay and gum disease, some are responsible for bad breath and the others for keeping you healthy.
Researchers have found that advanced forms of gum disease are linked with other health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke and bacterial pneumonia, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia, Alzheimer’s and even types of cancer like pancreatic and oesophageal cancer.
Pregnant women with gum disease may be at increased risk of delivering preterm and/or low-birth-weight infants.
Bacteria and inflammation linked to gum disease spread via the bloodstream and travel around the body adding to systemic inflammation. This inflammation plays a role in some systemic diseases or conditions.
Diseases such as diabetes, blood cell disorders, HIV infections and AIDS can lower the body’s resistance to infection, making gum disease more severe and harder to treat and control.
Several studies link chronic inflammation from gum disease with the development of cardiovascular problems. Mouth bacteria have been linked to heart disease, blocked arteries and strokes.
People with diabetes often have gum disease, which makes it more difficult for them to control their blood sugar levels, which in turn worsens and accelerates gum disease.
It’s a bit of a chicken and egg scenario and we are not sure which comes first gum disease or the health condition but they are linked by being caused or worsened by inflammation so it makes sense that if we can control and halt inflammation in your mouth we can help reduce it in your whole body, a fact that has been known by medical science for over 200 years.
What can you do to prevent Gum Disease
Prevention and proper treatment of gum disease are important to stop mouth bacteria entering the blood and travelling to other parts of the body and to reduce inflammation.
The basic and universal advice is to:
Professional dental hygiene appointments are where we remove the build-up of plaque and tartar and bacteria from around your teeth and under your gums to reduce inflammation and halt the progress of gum disease. It is then for you to play your role by taking great care of mouth, gums and overall health and wellbeing.
If you notice any of these signs, you have gum disease and be aware these symptoms can also be a sign of poor health not just in your mouth but in your whole body so it would be wise not to ignore them or think that is normal.
Do you have?
If you have any of these symptoms or have noticed any changes its time to seek dental advice and treatment before its too late. (Call Us Now)
Gum disease is multifactorial – that means it is caused by many things and influenced by your diet and lifestyle.
Changes in your health, medications, sleep, hormones, nutrition and stress levels play a major part in how healthy your gums are so when we assess your gum health we also want to know what is going on for you from a health and lifestyle perspective.
So it’s important to tell the dentist or hygienist about any changes in your overall health, recent illnesses or chronic conditions. We also need to know what medications you are on both prescription and over the counter products, and any alterations in life or work circumstances that could be impacting on your dental health.
This way we can piece together what your mouth is showing us with what you are telling us and from there prescribe the best treatment for your dental health and for you.
A healthy body starts with a healthy mouth. Gums should not bleed, be swollen or red – these are signs of bacterial infection and inflammation that will be damaging the health of your gums and your body.
What can you do to support your gum health, prevent gum disease or put a halt to its progress?
Well, number one is to have a dental check and attend to any dental hygiene issues you have so that the build-up of harmful plaque bacteria and damaging tartar can be removed from around your teeth and under the gums.
This quickly helps to reduce inflammation and switch off the active disease processes. Depending on the severity of your gum health this may be as simple as one or two visits with the hygienist or a more prolonged and intensive course of gum therapy over a series of visits to thoroughly remove the build-up and treat the infection in your gums.
Number 2 and 3 is to address diet and lifestyle factors: Poor nutrition, poor oral care, stress, smoking, and alcohol consumption, toxins and lack of sleep will lead to and accelerate dental disease.
So to recap and take this further- one of the most common infectious diseases known to the modern world is gum disease– which affects over 4 billion people worldwide. Also called periodontal disease, this often ignored health problem is directly linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, arthritis, diabetes and even dementia and cancers.
By simply changing your diet and lifestyle habits you hold the key to reversing this major threat to your health.
Our modern day diet is one of the major reasons we have such an increase in gum disease, which I am seeing in younger and younger patients. Recently I have seen many patients in their 20’s which advanced gum disease, bone damage around their teeth, inflamed gums and infection and I put this down to poor diet.
Tooth decay was nowhere near as prevalent as it is today in our ancestors –the adoption of a carbohydrate-rich diet, along with the advent of industrially processed flour and sugar, caused and still is responsible for an explosion in the incidence of tooth decay and gum disease.
Increased consumption of grains and cereals has created a marked increase in dental tartar called calculus, and plaque bacteria, while “free” sugars in syrups, juices, sodas and concentrates produce acids that cause tooth decay – resulting in a “double whammy” of tooth-destroying food choices.
Too many people are unaware of and remain uninformed about the best ways to care for their mouths – increasing the risk of disease. Bottom line: poor nutrition, toxicity and chronic inflammation triggered by poor oral health put our lives at risk and all of this is avoidable.
I strongly recommend eating real food – which is simply consuming unrefined, unprocessed, whole, natural foods, these foods, by their very nature, are nutrient-dense and anti-inflammatory, two important factors when it comes to maintaining dental health and your body health.
Did you know not all bacteria in your mouth or dental plaque are bad?
Your mouth has over 6 billion bacteria and the majority of these I would call “healthy dental plaque” or good bacteria. These healthy good bacteria support you to have a healthy mouth environment and stop the bad bacteria from overgrowing and causing harm that leads to inflammation and disease. But if you don’t feed those good bacteria and yourself the right foods the bad bacteria will and do take over.
Using harsh, explode in your mouth mouthwashes also damage your healthy bacteria which leaves an environment where the bad bacteria can grow unchecked as there are not enough good bacteria left to keep them under control. Those “healthy dental plaque” bacteria fight the disease-causing bacteria, remineralise teeth to prevent tooth decay and help to stabilise acid levels so need to be looked after and cared for properly.
However, inflammation can upset this delicate balance, as can poor food choices and poor oral hygiene habits.
Bacteria in the mouth should not be killed, but “fed” to encourage the growth of beneficial microorganisms. This is because good mouth bacteria produce hydrogen peroxide a natural antibacterial that keeps harmful bacteria under control.
To decrease the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth and promote the growth of beneficial bacteria I advise eating healthy amounts of prebiotic foods – such as garlic, onions, avocado, apples and asparagus – and, of course, to avoid refined (processed) sugars, junk foods and soft drinks.
I see many people who are trying to be healthy, get fit, overcome health conditions and wanting to take better care of themselves yet they neglect one of the key elements to having a healthy body and that is the health of their mouth.
Just because you are not in pain, your teeth don’t hurt or your gums aren’t sore doesn’t mean everything is ok. Bleeding, red gums, bad breath, build up on your teeth, sensitivity or any changes in your bite are all signs that something is not right. You can have gum disease and not even know it just like you are unaware that your arteries are blocking up until you have a heart attack. Please don’t ignore the warning signs or avoid having dental checks, which could potentially not only save your teeth but also your life.
Your mouth can be the source of inflammation, infection and toxicity to the rest of your body stressing your immune system, creating more inflammation and putting you at risk of serious life-threatening disease. As your dentist, I see my role as being a part of your health care team and helping you to have and keep a beautiful healthy smile for health, long life.
It’s time for you to start listening to what your mouth is trying to tell you and stop ignoring all the warning signs that you have gum disease and inflammation. By making some simple changes to your diet and lifestyle and having your gums professionally checked and treated you will go a long way to preventing and reducing your risk for serious illness and disease.
Call Us Now To schedule a dental health assessment and find out your risk for inflammation and systemic illness