Check your gums: They may be a health warning

By naturopath Margaret Jasinska

Poor oral health can be an early warning sign of other significant problems in your body. Research has shown that older people with gum disease may be at double the risk of stroke.

The research was presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in Houston. According to one of the authors of a recent study, Dr. Souvik Sen, chair of neurology at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Columbia, “The higher the level of gum disease, the worse the risk”.

The risk of having a stroke was 1.9 times, 2.1 times and 2.2 times higher in individuals with mild, moderate and severe gum disease. This was an observational study, so it doesn’t prove a cause and effect relationship. What it does show is poor oral health is a marker for poor health in general. It is difficult to know your risk of suffering with a stroke without undergoing some specific medical tests. However, it is easy to look at your gums and see whether they are healthy or not. If your gums are inflamed, the arteries supplying your brain could be too. If your gums regularly bleed or feel sore, please see your dentist and doctor.

Periodontal disease is a chronic gum infection that is thought to affect more than 30 percent of the population at some stage. The infection is caused by the bacteria present in plaque. The infection causes the gums to become inflamed (called gingivitis). If this is allowed to progress, the gums can erode away, along with the bone that holds the teeth in place. If left untreated, periodontal disease can cause the loss of teeth.

It is more common in diabetics, smokers, people with digestive problems and those who don’t consume enough fresh vegetables. Vitamin C helps to improve gum health and can be very helpful for preventing tooth loss. All vegetables contain vitamin C. It’s not solely found in fruit. If you experience bleeding gums you really need more vitamin C. Vitamin D is also important for healthy gums, and it helps to reduce inflammation in the body. If you know your diet hasn’t been fantastic recently, doing the 15 Day Cleanse can help get you back on track with taking good care of your health.

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