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The Mouth Is The Mirror Of The Body

Most of us do not pay much attention to our mouths, we clean our teeth in the morning and evening, and some of us use dental floss or interdental brushes to make sure that our teeth are clean and then rinse out and that’s it!

However, a recent UK Adult Dental Health Survey (*1) showed that most of us have gum disease so there is obviously more we should be doing.   Gum disease is an infection caused by dental plaque bacteria which creep in underneath the gums. This infection slowly erodes away the foundations of the teeth. Then the gums start shrinking, the teeth get loose and wobbly, and if left untreated, finally we end up with abscesses and tooth loss.  But that is not all!

Published research has shown that gum infections have very harmful effects throughout  our bodies. Did you know that there is a major connection between gum disease and heart disease?  It has been shown that the bacteria from gum disease can settle on the heart valves and damage them permanently. Once this happens the heart is unable to work efficiently and the heart becomes more susceptible to other infections.

Also, that women who have active gum disease during their pregnancy are more likely to have preterm and low birth weight babies!  The body cannot concentrate all its resources on the baby while it has to continuously fight off an-ongoing infection in the mouth.

It is well known that people with uncontrolled diabetes are more susceptible to infections. If these people also have gum disease, either it gets worse, or the diabetes becomes more difficult to control, or both.  So if the immune system has to struggle to control two problems at the same time to try and maintain health, it often fails to manage either.

New findings:  Links between gum disease and bowel cancer, asthma and even erectile dysfunction

The list of how a compromised immune system due to gum disease is associated with other serious diseases is growing daily. Rheumatoid arthritis has been linked with gum disease, and more recently bowel cancer, asthma, and even erectile dysfunction.  As more and more medical conditions are associated with this ongoing silent infection that most of us have in our mouths, it is clear that although gum disease does not cause pain or swellings or any other alarming symptoms in its early stages, the effects of the infection from the highly toxic bacteria lodged underneath the gums echo throughout our bodies and can cause or contribute significantly to other illnesses in other parts of the body.

However, gum disease may not be causing any of these diseases; it may be the other way around!  If you have a medical condition which is compromising the immune system the body becomes increasingly unable to control the dozens of species of bacteria that normally inhabit the mouth.  So, if you suddenly develop the signs of gum disease, is that because there is something going on somewhere else in your body which has weakened the immune system’s ability to keep your mouth healthy ?

If this is so, then the mouth is the mirror of the body.  A healthy mouth may well be a reflection of a healthy immune system and a mouth with swollen, red, or bleeding gums may well be telling us that all is not well somewhere else.  So if you have the signs of gum disease, or you suddenly develop them for no apparent reason, you should take this very seriously and get it dealt with by a dentist, hygienist, or periodontist (a dental specialist in managing gum conditions), but more importantly you may need to ask yourself when you last had a check-up at the doctor!  When did you last have a blood test to check your sugar levels or have your blood pressure taken? Is there something else going on that the symptoms in your mouth are telling you?

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 and diseases if and when they occur.

So, when you look in the mirror, look in your mouth too, and if you see the signs of gum disease, think about your general health and how this may be affecting you, because it might just be reflecting some nasty little surprises that you can get under control before they become major problems.

Tips For Recognising Gum Disease:-

1.  Do your gums bleed for no apparent reason?
2.  When you brush your teeth is there some pink staining of your toothpaste, 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)?

If you have any of these symptoms or if you think you may have periodontal (gum) disease, see your dental professional and ask specifically for a periodontal (gum) examination.

Be aware that early periodontal disease is symptomless so you should have this checked out even if your mouth seems healthy.

This advice is provided by a well known periodontist, Dr Peter Galgut Ph.D., M.Phil., M.Sc., BDS, MRD.RCS, LDS RCS, MFGDP (UK), MF Hom. (Dent) FHEA CUEW

Peter Galgut is a well-established clinical periodontist with a specialist practice in Golders Green, North-West London. He is a world-renowned lecturer and research scientist in periodontology and twice winner of UK Dentist of the Year.  If you would like more specialist advice from Dr Galgut please click here to contact me

1 Adult oral health survey 2009

Eight Secrets on How to Look After Your Gums

Gum disease can be a scary thought, and as with most things, prevention is most definitely better than cure!

Here are eight secrets on how to look after your gums and prevent gum disease.

1) Brush your teeth and gums regularly and efficiently.

2) Remember to clean in between your teeth using dental floss or interdental brushes.

3) Any spots of bleeding must be brushed extra well to remove the bacteria in dental plaque that are trying to infect them.

4) Use an antiseptic mouthwash, swishing it vigorously through the spaces between your  teeth particularly where you have bleeding, soreness, or swelling of your gums.

5) If the bleeding does not stop within 4 days of extra vigorous care, you must see a dental professional (Periodontist, Dentist or Hygienist) for advice and treatment before the infection starts damaging your gums.

6) If the Dentist and Hygienist can’t solve the problem, you need to see a Periodontist.

7) Do not ignore bleeding or red gums even if there is no pain, because the sooner the infection is removed, the less damage will have occurred.

8) Beware: Other symptoms such as bad breath, soreness or burning sensations in your mouth, gum swellings and moving or loosening teeth need to be treated as soon as possible to prevent you losing them

If you’re worried about gum disease or would like some more specialist advice,  you can click here to contact me. 

Don’t forget to leave your favourite tip or secret way of keeping your  mouth fresh, clean and healthy. Leave your comment below and I’ll post  the 10 best one’s on my facebook page.

More tips coming up soon,


Peter Galgut
Leading UK Periodontist
Dentist of the Year 2010 & 2013


You’re cleaning your teeth… But what about your gums?

Cleaning your teeth is fairly easy, but cleaning your gums is much more difficult!  Reaching the difficult inaccessible parts of your mouth needs special extra care and attention.  Have you ever been shown how to clean not only your teeth but your gums as well to make sure that they are free of infection?  If you have not, why not see your dentist, hygienist, or periodontist to make sure that you are doing it right?

What’s Your Plaque Score?

The Adult Dental Health Survey in the UK (2009) showed that although the majority of adults cleaned their teeth and gums regularly, most of them had plaque scores of 24%.  What that means is that although we may be cleaning out teeth very nicely, most of us do not reach a quarter of the less accessible spots where plaque accumulates and that is where periodontal disease starts.  Get your dentist, hygienist, or periodontist to do a plaque score and check out exactly where you are missing out when you brush your teeth to prevent periodontal disease taking hold.  Also get them to show you how to get into these areas that you currently missing out and eliminate every scrap of plaque to make sure that you do not lose your teeth in the long-term, or suffer all of the embarrassment of bleeding gums, bad tastes and bad breath in the meantime

Do You Have Gum Disease?

The most recent Adult Dental Health Survey in the UK (2009) has shown that 83% of adults in the UK have some gum disease!  That means that you probably have some gum disease and it is worth eliminating this potential cause of tooth loss before it takes hold and becomes a problem that may cause you not only to lose your teeth, but all sorts of other problems such as teeth drifting out of alignment and getting wobbly, bleeding and discolouration of your teeth, and an increasing inability to chew your food comfortably.  Why not get it checked to make sure your mouth is completely healthy?

Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy

Periodontal disease increases during pregnancy.  In fact sometimes the 1st signs of pregnancy are a suddenly unexplained increase in bleeding and swollen gums.  This is because of the huge hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy and during breastfeeding afterwards.  If you are pregnant and your gums bleed, see a dental professional such as a periodontist as soon as possible to make sure this problem is eliminated, because if left untreated, you could end up with considerable damage to your teeth and gums leading possibly to pain, sensitivity, tenderness, and even abscesses and tooth loss as well as possibly even little tumours called epulides.  It is much more sensible to avoid all these problems by getting the infection under control at an early stage in your pregnancy so that you can enjoy your pregnancy and your body’s resources can concentrate on growing your gorgeous baby.

Periodontal Disease can be a killer!

Periodontal disease can be a killer!  Do you know that increasing evidence has shown that having a chronic long-term low grade destructive infection such as periodontal disease has enormous effects on your immune system?  Because your immune system is always on high alert, and fighting off the potential bacterial infection from gum disease you become more susceptible to other conditions.  Some of these might be minor like an increased susceptibility to colds and flu, but increasingly it is being shown that periodontal disease adversely affects heart disease, diabetes, pregnancy outcomes, rheumatoid arthritis, and many others!  So if you have gum disease, or you think you have gum disease get it checked out and dealt with as soon as possible.

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