How To Prevent Gum Disease and Improve Your Health
The traditional advice for prevention for gum disease is floss, brush, use mouthrinse and see your dentist twice a year. Yes, I’m sure you’ve heard it before and it is good advice, however it is only a part of the equation and I often ask myself as gum disease is linked to your systemic health, is this advice enough?
I see patients who tell me they do all these things yet their gums still bleed and their gum health is worsening. Is it simply that they are really bad at cleaning their teeth, are they lying or is there something missing, something more they should be doing.
Lifestyle and Gum Disease
Our lifestyle plays a huge role in our health and overall wellbeing and also the health of our mouth. Just like your body your gums need to be cared for properly with the correct nutrition to support repair and regeneration and to boost and support your immune system and natural defences.
Now when I say nutrition I mean eating real not processed foods so please don’t focus on calorie intake or weight loss diets here.
Chronic advanced gum disease and chronic disease go hand in hand so changing your diet can change your life as well as improve your quality of life and your lifespan.
Bleeding Gums Don’t Ignore The Warning Signs
Bleeding gums when you brush and floss is a red alert warning sign that you have a bacterial disease and inflammation in your mouth. At this point, you should be thinking about why this is happening and be making changes to stop this from continuing.
But as humans, we aren’t very good at listening to our body and making the required changes. Instead, we wait until we get a diagnosis of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or worse cancer before we think about making a change in our lifestyle. Yet these conditions are linked to gum disease, so those bleeding gums are an early warning sign that your body is unhealthy and that worse things are to follow if you don’t start paying attention and do something about it.
So could you make changes to avoid and stop putting toxins in your body and start putting in the nutrients you need instead?
How Lifestyle Causes Gum Disease and Tooth Decay
There are things we are doing that activate bacteria to cause gum disease and tooth decay. If we can keep a balance between the good and bad bacteria in our mouths we will not get tooth decay or gum disease, it's that simple. However, if we have poor nutrition and are overly toxic there will be a shift in the bacteria levels in our mouth and gut, especially if we feed them processed grains and sugars. This means we get an increase of decay bacteria and the bacteria that cause gum disease, bacteria, which will spread into the blood and circulate through the body and create systemic disease.
Dentistry focuses on treating disease without asking why are you having these issues and getting to the underlying cause. Sadly there is no money in teaching you how to stay healthy so the focus of medicine is to treat your illness not to prevent you from getting it. I want to help you to stop and prevent dental disease so your mouth stays healthy once we have removed and treated the active disease you have when I first see you.
Can we as dentists and dental professionals teach you what you need to stay healthy – of course we can. I can show you how to care for your mouth and teach you what foods will support you to prevent gum disease and tooth decay and improve your overall health.
Gum Infections and Inflammation
Bleeding gums and systemic health issues go hand in hand, if your gums are unhealthy you have a gum infection that needs to be addressed. Otherwise, you have active chronic disease spreading into your bloodstream without you having to do a thing and this is made worse when you chew, talk, brush your teeth you are forcing more bacteria into your body by stimulating the blood circulation around your teeth.
Bleeding Gums Are NOT OK!
Why is it that we (and even dentists) will say its ok it's only bleeding a little bit it's not that bad or that we think its normal for our gums to bleed when we brush. I’m telling you now it is not. Your gums should not bleed.
Imagine you took a nailbrush and scrubbed your nails and blood started to come out from around your nail would you be alarmed, worried and concerned and want to know how to make it stop? Of course, you would so why do we not react or think the same when it comes to our gums. They are not supposed to bleed – that is a signal to you that something is wrong with you and your dentist should never tell you its ok it's only bleeding a little bit.
This is crazy, bleeding gums are telling you that you have active disease and infection that is pouring into your bloodstream. This means you are a walking time bomb for systemic disease; there is infection something is going wrong with your gums that need to be treated and treated properly.
How To Treat Bleeding Gums – Properly
If the dental profession is only doing quick cleanings and not talking about food and lifestyle they are missing an opportunity to change peoples lives for the better and to help not only prevent tooth decay and gum disease but life-threatening diseases too.
Gut Bacteria and Health
Your gut bacteria help control and support your immune system. If you eat incorrectly you mess up these bacteria and increase bad bacteria and cause inflammation in the gut that spreads to your bloodstream. The same conditions that alter the balance of gut bacteria also affect your oral/mouth bacteria.
This change in gut and mouth bacteria balance can be reversed by eating more nutrient dense and anti-inflammatory foods like fresh vegetables, meat and fish and avoiding processed grains and sugars and processed seed oils.
Healthy living can and does make a huge difference to your health but if no one is telling you the link between gum disease, food and lifestyle and your overall health you are not being kept in the loop and being given the full picture.
How To Prevent Gum Disease Making You Sick
What can you do to prevent your gums from killing you? Number one is to reduce pathogenic bad bacteria in your mouth and stop them spreading to your bloodstream from your mouth.
Just because something is labelled natural, healthy or organic doesn’t mean it is actually good for your health, those sticky muesli health bars, for example, are full of sugars that stick to your teeth and remains there fueling the harmful bacteria.
The answer is not to kill all the bacteria in the mouth; this would be like trying to take an antibiotic that harms your gut bacteria. Normal dental plaque is healthy, there are species of bacteria that are there to help protect you and your gums, these provide a way to neutralize acidity in the mouth and fight pathogenic harmful bacteria as well supplying nutrients to help remineralise the tooth with the minerals from your saliva.
The problem is when your dental plaque becomes unhealthy because you are feeding it every time you eat with sugars in your diet at every meal or snack. This alters the balance of good and bad bacteria leading to a build-up of plaque that attacks your teeth and gums.
Is Not About Removing Bacteria
The key is not to remove all the plaque but to reduce the bad ones and remove the build-up that will cause damage to your gum health.
Dislodge the unhealthy bacteria by eating foods that keep the bad bacteria under control. Fresh fruit and vegetables that contain nitrates, when you eat these bacteria on the tongue convert the nitrates to nitrites which when swallowed convert to nitric oxide which helps manage blood pressure and as it is also an anti-inflammatory it helps maintain cardiovascular health and gum health. So we need to eat lots of plants to improve and support our health and our good bacteria.
It is also not a good idea to use mouthwashes that kill all your mouth bacteria we need to use a mouth rinse that supports the balance of your mouth bacteria to protect you to stay healthy, combat tooth decay and gum disease and prolong your life.
How To Keep Your Mouth Healthy
To keep your mouth healthy – remove unhealthy dental plaque by brushing into the gum space at a 45 degree angle, clean in between the teeth with floss and interdental brushes (like a little bottle brush to work in between the teeth), clean your tongue by using a proper tongue scraper as far back on the tongue as possible to the place that makes you gag then scrape forward from there several times to clean the bacteria and build up off your tongue.
Foods To Keep Your Mouth Healthy
But the real way to keep your mouth healthy is to eat the right foods and not eat the wrong foods; the most damaging foods are free sugars that are added to foods, fruit juice is concentrated sugar with no fibre or goodness that you get from the fruit. If you want something sweet use raw honey but do not heat it as it kills its natural biological activity that helps support health.
The food you need to eat – leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds, meat and fish not processed grains like bread, crackers, pasta which are highly inflammatory to the gut and mouth which will lead to poor gum health and bone structure.
Eat fish like salmon sardines, shellfish, vitamin C foods like citrus, broccoli, berries, and get some Vitamin D via sun exposure without sunblock and without burning your skin, Vitamin D is crucial for overall health and dental health – cod liver oil, free-range egg yolks are good sources of vitamin D, you also need lots of antioxidant foods again this comes from vegetables and berries, and healthy fibre from those fruits and vegetables. You want to be eating real food, as clean and organic as you can get to reduce chemical exposure.
Gum Infection – Here’s What Needs To Happen
To treat active infection it needs to be taken care of by the dentist and dental hygienist, you can use essential oils to support the healing but at this stage I would not recommend use of a dental water pick until the gum health resolves because you don’t want to be forcing infection and bacteria deeper into the pockets.
Supplements such as vitamin C and Co-Q 10 will support healing but not treat the disease as the harmful plaque bacteria need to be removed and the bacterial balance in the mouth re-established through proper diet.
Oil pulling cannot get into deep gum pockets, so even though coconut oil has antibacterial properties it can damage the healthy mouth bacteria if you do it for too long like the recommended 20 minutes, as just like a mouthwash it will kill off the good stuff too.
The aim is to allow the healthy bacteria to do their job by creating an environment where they can thrive and this comes from our lifestyle and oral care habits.
Preventing Tooth Decay and Gum Disease
Preventing tooth decay, gum disease and systemic health conditions are possible if you are willing to make the changes required in your diet and switch from processed foods to eating real foods, getting regular sensible sun exposure, reducing stress and toxins, ensuring you have quality sleep and exercise.
Please don’t ignore those bleeding gums this is a sign of active disease and until this is treated you will have ongoing health issues even if you make the switch to a healthier lifestyle, I recommend taking a holistic approach and addressing all the underlying issues and removing the harmful bacterial build up from around the teeth and under the gums for significant and lasting benefits.