This gum problem is more than a health niggle

  • A weird link between Covid-19 and the health of your mouth 
  • Watch out if you see this in your sink 
  • How your gums could save your life

A lot of adverts on TV are rubbish, admittedly.

But there was one a few years back that really struck a chord with me.

It was either for toothpaste or a mouth wash. (I can’t quite remember the product, only the message of the commercial!)

In the ad, a woman is brushing her teeth and she looks down to see blood in the sink.

The voiceover said something along the lines of: “You wouldn’t be happy if you saw blood coming from any other part of your body, so why is it ok when it’s your gums?”

The reason it struck a chord was that for most of my later adult life, I regularly saw flecks of blood after brushing and shrugged it off as just ‘something that happens’.

Maybe I’d over-brushed.

Maybe I’d got something stuck between my teeth that had caused irritation.

No biggie, as they say.

Certainly, compared to seeing blood in the toilet, I never panicked about it.

But really, we should all take it seriously when we see blood oozing from our gums.

Because it’s not just an inevitable thing that happens.

I discovered this when I was spooked enough by my bleeding gums to go for a course of dental hygiene treatment over a few months.

It was really uncomfortable (I have to admit, I have always been a bit afraid of dental treatment) but as a result, my gums have never bled since.

And I’ve grown to realise that it’s not a minor health niggle either.

How Your Gums Could Save Your Life

According to the European Federation of Periodontology, eight in ten people over the age of 35 get bleeding gums.

That’s a huge figure.

It means that most people reading this email are having this issue.

The mild version of inflamed gums is called gingivitis.

However, if it’s not treated, this condition leads to periodontitis, which causes pain and loss of teeth – and also far worse problems, potentially.

I read an article in the Times last month about some quite shocking new research into Covid-19 patients that links periodontitis to serious complications and death from coronavirus.

According to the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, those with gum disease were NINE times more likely to die, and over three times more likely to end up in intensive care.

The link, say the researchers, is inflammation.

You see, when your gums are sore, swollen and bleeding, it’s not just a dental issue.

Inflamed gums can trigger a chronic inflammatory response throughout your entire body.

So basically, when you have periodontitis, you have more inflammatory substances swimming about in your system.

This makes Covid sufferers more likely to experience problems, as the disease gets serious when the body’s inflammatory immune system response runs wild.

And it’s not only about coronavirus.

How ‘bad bacteria’ invade through your gums

Experts increasingly believe that your mouth is a highly vulnerable source of bacterial infection.

Nichola West, from the European Federation of Periodontology says:

“The mouth is a window into the body. Bacteria in the mouth get into the bloodstream, where they can harm the rest of the body. This explains why gum disease has been linked with diabetes, cardiovascular disease and dementia.”

In her research, she has found that half the bacteria in the bloodstream of periodontitis sufferers originates in the gums.

And here’s an interesting thing I didn’t know…

Gum care can reduce the symptoms of diabetes

Last year, Harvard University researchers found out that if they treated the periodontitis of diabetes sufferers, it restored some of their ability to control their blood sugar levels.

In other words, treating gum disease reverses some of their diabetes symptoms.

Amazing really.

I guess it should be obvious that our mouth health is connected to the health of the rest of the body.

But for years I mentally separated ‘dental’ issues and ‘medical’ ones.

That was, until that TV ad jolted me into going to a hygienist.

And the more I’ve read up about it since, the more I’ve been thankful that I prevented the onset of periodontitis!

Of course, the key is to brush your teeth and avoid too much sugar. We all know that.

And if you see blood in the sink, don’t shrug it off, but instead see if you can arrange a dental appointment.

I realise that might be tough with so many services restricting what they offer because of the pandemic, but get your name down on a waiting list ASAP.

Dental practices are opening up, and you should be able to get check-ups now.

In the meantime, another thing you can do is take one of these every day – a special sugar free mint that:

  • Provides calcium phosphate which can help repair your teeth
  • Strengthens the collagen structure of your dentine
  • Allows remineralisation to take place, building up the calcium and phosphate
  • Reduces acidity levels and combats bad breath

You can find out more about them here: Dr Heff’s

Have a great weekend!