A lot of people think that it’s perfectly normal if their gums bleed a little bit when they brush or floss.
You imagine they’d think so if, say, their scalp bled a little while they washed their hair? Their hands during scrubbing?
Blood is a sign that something is wrong. Bleeding gums are a sign of disease. If left untreated, the result is lost bone and, ultimately, lost teeth.
But it’s not just the mouth that suffers. Periodontal (gum) disease has been linked with many other inflammatory conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and stroke. For what happens in the mouth can and does affect the rest of the body. How could it be otherwise? Your mouth is connected to your body; your body is connected to your mouth.
Whoopi Goldberg, for one, found out about the oral/systemic link the hard way – and spoke of it quite powerfully on The View:
If you’re not taking care of your mouth, you’re not taking care of your body!
That’s plain, hard truth; wisdom that comes from, as Whoopi says, “paying the price” for neglecting her oral health for so long (and this despite the fact that she had insurance and far more than enough money to get regular, top-notch care).
Indeed, no one is immune from gum disease, though some are more susceptible than others. (Click here for a list of contributing factors.) Still, there are three important things we can do to lower our risk: 1) Don’t use tobacco; 2) Brush, floss and see your dentist regularly; and 3) Eat well, including lots of fresh vegetables and few sugary drinks and highly processed carbs.
Want to learn more about the connections between periodontal disease and systemic health? I recommend ZT4BG – Zero Tolerance for Bleeding Gums – a site maintained by dentist William C. Domb, DMD.