Your Family’s Mouths Mirror Their Health

Practicing good oral hygiene is the key to maintaining good overall health of your family. Few people pay much attention to their mouths, other than cleaning their teeth twice a day. Some may use dental floss or interdental brushes to ensure their teeth are extra clean, but then rinse and forget! But most people have some form of gum disease, caused by dental plaque bacteria creeping beneath the gums. This infection slowly erodes your teeth foundations, so gums start to shrink, the teeth loosen and, if left untreated, can lead to dental abscesses or tooth loss. But that’s not all.

Research shows that gum infections are linked with harmful conditions throughout the body, including heart disease, damaged heart valves, and worsening of pre-existing conditions such as diabetes. Women with active gum disease during pregnancy are also more likely to have preterm and low birth weight babies.

The understanding of how gum disease can affect those with serious health conditions which compromise their immune system is growing daily. Rheumatoid arthritis has now been linked with gum disease, and more recently bowel cancer, asthma, and even erectile dysfunction.

More and more health problems are now associated with the ongoing silent infection found in most people’s mouths, and it is clear that highly toxic bacteria lodged underneath your gums are a cause for concern even when they do not cause pain, swelling or other alarming symptoms. However, gum disease may not be the root cause of any of these associated diseases – it could be the other way around! If you have a medical condition, which compromises you immune system, it becomes increasingly unable to control the dozens of species of bacteria that normally inhabit your mouth.

So, if you or anyone in your family suddenly develops signs of gum disease, is it because something has weakened their ability to keep their mouth healthy? If this is so, then the mouth is the mirror of the body. A healthy mouth may reflect a healthy immune system while a mouth with swollen, red, or bleeding gums may mean that all is not well somewhere else.

If you or your family members detect signs of gum disease, or suddenly develop them for no apparent reason, you should take this seriously and see a dentist, hygienist, or periodontist (a dental specialist in managing gum conditions). And, importantly, you should also ask yourself when you last had a medical check-up with your doctor. When did you last have a blood test to check your sugar levels? When did you last have your blood pressure taken? Are there any grumbling symptoms you keep ignoring?

Making sure that your immune system is in tiptop condition gives your body the best chance of maintaining wellness and successfully dealing with other conditions if and when they occur. So, when you look in the mirror, always look in your mouth too.

If you or your family members notice any of these symptoms, or if you think you or any of them may have periodontal (gum) disease, see your dental professional and ask specifically for a periodontal (gum) examination. Early periodontal disease is symptomless so you should have this checked even if your mouth seems healthy. What is also important is that because parents are responsible for ensuring that their children practice good dental hygiene, they must introduce proper oral care early in a child’s life – as early as infancy – so that the children grow up into well-informed adults who, along with their smiles, will also safeguard their health.

How to Recognise Gum Disease:

  1. Do your gums bleed for no apparent reason?
  2. When you brush your teeth is there pink staining on your toothpaste, or when you spit out in the basin?
  3. Are your gums sore and swollen?
  4. Do your teeth feel loose?
  5. Are your teeth moving out of alignment?
  6. Do you suffer from bouts of bad breath or bad tastes in your mouth?
  7. Are your gums shrinking (receding)?

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