Taking good care of your teeth and gums isn’t just about preventing cavities or bad breath. A healthy mouth, leads to a healthy body.

The mouth is filled with many bacteria. Some of these bacteria are linked to tooth decay and periodontal or gum disease. Periodontal disease may be connected with diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Gum disease is an ongoing inflammation caused by bacteria that live in plaque. The bacteria in plaque irritate the gums, making them red, tender and likely to bleed. This condition is called gingivitis.

Gingivitis can be reversed if you remove plaque before it builds up. You can do this by brushing twice a day, flossing daily and having your teeth cleaned regularly (every 6 months) in the dental office.

If you do not get rid of gingivitis, it can turn into an infection in the spaces between the teeth and gums and around the teeth. It can damage the attachment of the gums and bone to the teeth. It can even lead to bone loss. If you go without treatment at this stage, your teeth may become loose, fall out or need to be removed by a dentist.

If you notice any of these signs, see your dentist:

Keeping your teeth and gums healthy is very important.