When meeting someone new, what is the first thing you notice about them? Is it their clothes, their hair, the way they stand, their cellphone? I think it goes without saying that the two things people notice when meeting someone for the first time are usually their eyes and their mouth, namely, their teeth. ‘
Having a beautiful smile is pretty important, it makes you look good and feel good. When people think of having a beautiful smile, they tend to think of just the teeth–keeping them white, having them straight, keeping them clean. What many people don’t realize is that they wouldn’t have any teeth at all without a good foundation.
Teeth are supported in the mouth by fibers and ligaments, similar to elastic bands and trampoline springs. These fibers and bands attach to the bone and gums around each tooth. If there’s no foundation of bone and gums then there’s nothing for the teeth to be attached to and they will fall out. This is usually because of a disease in the mouth called periodontal disease.
So to me, a beautiful smile is not only those dashing teeth, but also healthy gums and bone.
If the gums and bone aren’t in good health, then the teeth, regardless of how stunning they are, will not stay in the mouth for very long.
How many of you worry about your figure?
Are you exercising daily? Do you diet to drop extra weight? Do you watch what you eat? You can tell when you are in good shape just by pulling up your shirt and looking at the abs and the presence or absence of that six-pack.
That’s exactly the way your gums are. Your gums can either be fab or flab. When gums are healthy, they are tight, they are stippled like those sculpted abdominal muscles. They are not swollen, they do not bleed, they are not flabby. Why does that matter? Because of several things:
- gum health is directly related to your body’s health
- the gum tissue is very similar to tissue lining the blood vessels–if they are flabby, then your blood vessels are probably flabby, which puts you at risk for heart attacks and strokes
- flabby gums are a sign that there is inflammation, in the mouth
- flabby gums are a sign that there is inflammation in the whole body
- flabby gums can lead to total body health problems and diseases
- flabby gums can affect women who are pregnant
- flabby gums allow bacteria only found in the mouth into the blood stream
- flabby gums allow more bugs, food, and debris to get underneath them which causes infections, which can contribute to heart problems
In all my years as a dental hygienist I have only seen a handful of people who have really healthy gums. Now to me, that is really scary, because if gums are a crystal ball to total body health, then they are telling me that most people are not in good health.
How can you go from flab to fab?
When you are trying to improve your figure, what is it that you do? Well, you will exercise! Daily lifting weights, running, jumping, all lead to tighter and more firm muscles.
That’s the same thing you want to do with your gums. They need some “exercise” every day to make them tighter and more firm. This exercise should include several of the following:
I have found the that the best home care tools for firm, healthy gums are a sonic toothbrush and and a waterpik. The others are helpful but don’t produce as great of results.
When I was younger I told myself that if I just exercised more, I could eat those five cookies and still maintain my trim figure. Wrong! If you’ve ever thought this way you know it doesn’t work. Exercising alone does not keep you in good shape.
What else do you need to do to prevent flab?
You need to eat better! The gums are responsive to good nutrition just like your body. The following are some great guidelines to go from flab to fab in your gums, and also your body:
- cut out junk food (chips, fries, etc.)
- cut out soda pop
- cut out sugar
- reduce carbohydrates (notice I didn’t say “none”)
- eat low glycemic foods
- increase proteins
- increase nutrient dense rich food (vegetables, whole grains,etc.)
- increase antioxidants (seeds, berries)
- increase healthy fats (olive oil, avacados, nuts, coconut oil, etc)
- drink more water
Your gums are especially sensitive to nutrition. Bad eating habits may not show up in your figure for a while, but they will in your gums in the form of swelling, bleeding, and puffiness. This sets you on the path of disease.