Are your gums bleeding when you brush them?
If so, it could be a sign of low-grade inflammation. Low-grade inflammation often means your immune system is fighting off invaders and needs help from you to finish the job.
Your mouth is an important barrier between your immune system and harmful bacteria. When the oral microbiome is unbalanced, your immune system has a hard to time fighting off the bad guys.
Inflammation is just one of the many ways your body fights antigens – toxic and foreign substances that can make you sick.
Bleeding gums, sensitive teeth, and tooth pain are a few of the symptoms that might indicate you have an underlying inflammatory response. This can be a relief if you regularly brush and floss and are at a loss as to why you continue to have bleeding or inflamed gums.
Let’s take a look at the relationship between inflammation and dental health, and how your gut can be the cause of bleeding gums.
How gut health, digestion and bleeding gums fit together
A healthy individual always has their immune system working in the background, regularly keeping out invaders. In fact, when your immunes system is running without any issues you probably don’t give it much consideration. But the truth of the matter is your immune system deserves a lot of credit and support.
One way you can be better about supporting your immune system is through understanding the small ways it works for you. Through noticing small immune system responses, you can pay closer attention to its needs, and be more of aware something is out of whack sooner rather than later.
There are many small ways in which your immune system keeps you safe. For example, your eyes tear up when a foreign object enters them or you cough due to unwanted chemicals in the lungs. The immune system is rather impressive and even has the ability to raise your body temperature to kill viruses.
You are born with these innate immune system responses that are often taken for granted.
Then there’s inflammation. Inflammation is your body’s wonderful way of drawing resources and attention to a negatively impacted area.
Inflammation is like a soldier sent by your passive immune system to solve the problem locally. Your cells learn what to attack when we are in the womb and they further their knowledge later in life through encounters with different foreign toxins and substances – also called antigens.
Most of your immune system cells are in your gut microbiome and are developed early in life when the gut microbiome is established. But they can also be found in your blood, specifically in our white blood cells and proteins. When understand the digestive microbiome, we see how the gut can cause bleeding gums.
There are two types of lymphocytes found in your white blood cells, B and T. These are responsible for producing specific antibodies that check which cells are yours and which are foreign. When these lymphocytes find invaders, they cause inflammation. Inflammation works as a defense mechanism that releases certain chemicals, which cause infected tissue to swell.
Swelling confines the bacteria and stops it from expanding to other areas. While inflammation swells the tissues, the white blood cells begin to fight the bacteria.
When you notice swelling or inflammation on any part of your body, you can safely assume a war is being fought and the enemy is being surrounded and attacked.
However, sometimes your body doesn’t manage to kill the bacteria, especially if you don’t step in to give your immune system a boost.
Low-grade inflammation appears when your body is unsuccessfully dealing with a chronic low-grade invader. Without helping your immune system, this inflammation can persist and spread throughout the body.
Your body can’t function at full capacity when it’s constantly fighting off infection. A common sign this chronic immune system response is occurring in your body is through inflammation of the mouth and gums. If your gums are consistently bleeding when you brush or floss, it’s time to talk with your dentist about investigating further.
The reason you shouldn’t ignore signs of low-grade inflammation (like bleeding gums), is that it can spread and ultimately contribute to other inflammatory diseases such as, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and arthritis.
The Role of Inflammation in the Oral Microbiome
Over 600 species of bacteria live in your mouth, creating a barrier that keeps bad bacteria at bay.
For many, inflammation issues occur when they don’t encourage a healthy relationship between the gut microbiome and the oral microbiome, which is done through eating foods that promote the good bacteria growth.
Other times, bad brushing and flossing techniques lead to bad bacteria flooding your mouth, forcing your immune system to fight harder.
When there isn’t enough “good” diversity of bacteria in the gingival crevices, your immune system starts to fight back, and often uses inflammation to kill the antigens. The white cells in your blood fight against the unwelcome bacteria.
Inflammation isn’t always a bad thing. It’s a defense mechanism. But when your immune system can’t kill bacteria, and the inflammation sticks around provoking frequent bleeding, it can pull valuable energy resources from your overall health and lead to a cascade of negative health consequences.
One practice that many consider healthy but actually damages your oral microbiome is using mouthwash. While it might help us get rid of bad breath temporary, it only makes things worse on the long term.
Signs You Might Be Suffering from Gum Disease
Gum disease is caused by chronic inflammation and should be treated early, or your run the risk of your teeth coming loose. Many people suffering from gum disease go to the dentist when it’s too late. In that situation, dentures are the only solution left.
I urge you to get regular check ups and to never ignore chronic bleeding gums. Here are 5 important symptoms you should keep an eye out for:
- Bleeding gums
- Sensitive teeth
- Bad breath or a bitter taste in your mouth
- High blood sugar levels
- Digestive issues
Some of these lesser-known symptoms of gum disease, such as high blood sugar levels, digestive issues, and painful joints are also important and shouldn’t be ignored.
Digestive issues can suggest an imbalance in the gut flora, which can be influenced by the oral microbiome.
Diabetic patients are at greater risk because their bodies are going through a chronic inflammation cycle. Diabetics should have regular dental check ups and be acutely aware of signs of low-grade inflammation.
How to Balance Your Oral Microbiome and Fight Low-Grade Inflammation
The oral microbiome doesn’t fight low-grade inflammation by itself, it works with the gut microbiome.
When someone suffers from a leaky gut or makes poor dietary choices, it influences the overall health in both the gut and oral microbiome.
A balanced microbiome is more effective at fighting antigens and preventing low-grade inflammation from occurring and damaging your gums.
The best way to restore balance to your oral microbiome and prevent gum disease is to take probiotics and eat more fermented foods.
One of the most effective oral probiotics is Lactobacillus, which helps prevent the bad bacterias from building up on your gums by transforming sugars into lactic acid.
Also, brushing and flossing are important since they keep your gums and teeth clean and remove food residues.
Remember, low-grade inflammation isn’t something you should ignore, it’s a sign from your body that something is wrong and needs your attention. Try taking my Mouth-Body Quiz to see how your oral health stands today and begin taking the necessary steps towards improvement.
Now we want to hear from you. Please leave your questions in the comments below.
Want to know more? Dr Steven Lin’s book, The Dental Diet, is available to order today. An exploration of ancestral medicine, the human microbiome and epigenetics it’s a complete guide to the mouth-body connection. Take the journey and the 40-day delicious food program for life-changing oral and whole health.
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