You could make the case that flossing is more important than brushing, since it does a lot of the (very important) work that your toothbrush’s bristles just can’t pull off — primarily dislodging the build-up and bacteria trapped between teeth. Even rinsing with mouthwash isn’t strong enough to do so.

If I were to give anyone three tips on oral hygiene, it would be: floss, floss, and floss, says Dr. Marc Lowenberg, as quoted in an article on teen website teenvogue.com

Sore, inflamed gums (which can look puffy, red, or bleeding) can actually be a tip-off of more serious health issues that seem to be totally unrelated to your dental hygiene — on the surface, at least. Here’s what you should look out for.

1. Inflammation

If your gums are inflamed, you may have inflammation elsewhere in your body. Bacteria are a part of life — and we are covered in them. Usually, it’s all good: We give them a place to stay, and, in turn, they help protect and regulate functions on our skin and in our gut. The only time you run into trouble? When they go berserk.

The bacteria in the mouth form colonies and stick to the teeth at the gum line — this is plaque. If you don’t remove that plaque by brushing and flossing, the bacteria can enter through bleeding gums and travel throughout the body. They can settle down in various places and cause inflammation, which is linked to cancer, stroke, and depression.

2. Heart Disease

Once in your bloodstream, the rogue bacteria can do more than spur inflammation. Many dentists believe that they even set up camp in your arteries. These colonies of plaque that are found in our mouth may be associated with the plaque that forms in the arteries of the heart, which can contribute to heart disease. It appears the importance of brushing and flossing cannot be over-emphasised.

3. Diabetes

Inflamed or bleeding gums could also be a sign of Type 2 diabetes (the kind that appears in adulthood and may be linked to lifestyle habits). Diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection, which increases the probability of the gums becoming inflamed.

Further, high glucose levels in saliva also promote growth of bacteria that cause gum disease. It is recommended that for improved health: You should eat a well-balanced diet, avoid candy and sticky foods, and, of course, no smoking. And floss. Always floss.

See Also: Why Falling Asleep Without Brushing Your Teeth Is Really Gross

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