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The Bleeding Obvious ™


A quest to save Australian lives


By Dr Richard Johnston



If your gums bleed when you brush or floss your teeth you are not in perfect health and your body is more susceptible to disease including COVID-19.


Can you imagine taking an old-fashioned nail brush, gently rubbing this across your fingernails and thinking it was ‘ok’ if blood started to appear? Or simply pressing on any area of your body and seeing blood seep out?


I would suggest that if either of these two occurrences happened you would be making a very quick visit to your medical Doctor or an Emergency Department. But thousands of Australians seem to think it perfectly fine if their gums bleed - it is not and here’s why.


Periodontitis or Periodontal / Gum Disease as it is often referred to, is a chronic inflammatory disease that compromises the integrity of the tooth-supporting tissues, that is gingiva, periodontal ligament and alveolar bone, collectively known as the periodontium.


Inflammation (literally meaning "In Flames") is one of the body’s defence mechanisms to kill germs. Inflammation is a great thing, when it is harnessed for short periods of time, such as when you cut yourself, but when inflammation is sustained or even permanent as with untreated Periodontitis, then the affects can be deadly.


The germs that cause cavities and gum disease don’t stay put and can spread throughout the body, especially if your immune system is weak and infections can be serious, even resulting in hospitalisations.


But don’t take my word for this, over the past 20 years the broader medical community have come together and conducted thousands of studies on this topic. Common sense tells us that the body is not departmentalised, but beyond this the research is conclusive and has directly linked the following medical issues with oral disease: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory diseases, stroke, kidney diseases, peripheral vascular disease, dementia, adverse pregnancy outcomes, aspiration pneumonia, stomach ulcers, oral cancers and obesity

If there is a history of any of the above in your family and you have bleeding gums you are at a greater risk of developing these problems.


Your regular dentist is well qualified to diagnose your individual situation and many can treat this disease. In certain cases, your dentist might refer you to a Specialist Periodontist for treatment, but whatever the outcome you should seek diagnosis immediately.


Dr Richard Johnston is the Practice Principal at Beerwah Dental. Visit: beerwahdental.com.au


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