Next time you’re in the bathroom, take a good, long look in the mirror.
No, I’m not about to ask you to do any soul-searching. I want you to search for something else instead.
It’s an easy-to-spot hint (when you know what to look for) of a common health condition that most folks don’t take very seriously.
But we all should start because gum disease isn’t just an inconvenience. And it doesn’t only just lead to a lecture from your dentist and a painful cleaning.
There’s a LOT more on the line here. Because as strange as it sounds, new research reveals that your gums could hold the key to protecting your mental health… as well as warding off chronic pain and other conditions.
So allow me to share the gum disease red flags to look for the next time you’re checking out your pearly whites in the mirror. Plus, I’ll explain what you need to do to restore your gums to good health.
Unhealthy gums may harm your mental health
This number will likely surprise you. According to the CDC, some 70 percent of older Americans have gum disease.
And many of them simply don’t know it because they don’t know what to look for.
The new study shows why it’s crucial to recognize the signs and get treatment. Because the researchers found that gum disease is linked to two of today’s most common mental health problems:
These conditions can do more than simply ruin your quality of life (as if that’s not bad enough). They can wreak havoc with your physical health as well. In fact, mental health issues can trigger various other health problems, including sleep struggles, pain, and weaker immune function.
The new research reveals that your odds of anxiety and depression could jump by 37 percent over the next three years if you have gum disease.
It’s likely because the same bacteria behind gum disease can use bleeding gums to hitch a ride inside the body. Once there, they can take a trip through your blood vessels straight up into your brain.
How to spot gum disease before it’s too late
Here’s a scary bit of trivia for you. The same germs behind gum disease are often found hiding deep inside the brains of folks with Alzheimer’s disease.
But that’s STILL not all that’s on the line.
The same new study links gum disease to autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. And past studies on gum health have found associations between unhealthy gums and hardened arteries, heart attack, stroke, colon cancer, and more.
So do me a favor. When you’re done reading this, I’d like you to set aside a couple of minutes to take a good look at your gums in the mirror.
If they’re pink and firm, then you’ve got a reason to smile. That’s a good sign of healthy gums.
But you could have gum disease if…
- they’re red and puffy
- they pull away from your teeth
- if they bleed easily when brushing or flossing
If you spot any of these red flags, make an appointment to see your dentist, who may be able to treat it for you. Or, for a more advanced case of gum disease, they’ll likely refer you to a specialist for a deeper cleaning.
If your gums are still healthy, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of gum disease or turn things around if they’ve already started to slide.
Start with brushing and flossing, of course, but also be sure to rinse. Just avoid alcohol-based mouthwashes. Some research has linked excessive use of these washes to an increased risk for head, neck, and upper-airway cancers.
Choose a non-alcohol-based option instead. Or rinse with inexpensive 3 percent food-grade hydrogen peroxide.
I’ve also got three more unexpected ways to rinse your mouth and improve your odds of never getting gum disease. The third one’s REALLY interesting. It’s an ancient treatment most people have never heard of but was recently backed by some very modern science.