A dental hygienist doesn’t dive head first into school without the commitment of learning the ins and outs of… well… dental hygiene. They have been taught to help teach patients how to maintain good oral health and (believe us) they know if you are not keeping up your end of the bargain when it comes to your dental routine.

Our hygienists are among the greatest in the industry, and they want nothing but the best for you and your health. You may say that you’re flossing, but we know better. How you may ask?

Let’s take a look at a professional athlete, say… LeBron James. If he stopped training proficiently, changed his diet to doughnuts and Doritos, decided that very-little sleep was enough sleep, and all around stopped taking care of his body – it might take some time before you noticed that his game had fallen short, but in the long run, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and all the other unhealthy and scary conditions related to an unhealthy lifestyle would set in. Ending his professional career all together.

The same thing goes for gingivitis and periodontal disease. You could floss for a week before your dental appointment and possibly fool your dentist, but in the long run you are only fooling yourself. When you don’t floss bacteria starts to colonize in your mouth. These bacteria will establish a firm hold along your gum line. The body responds the same way to these bacteria the way it would a cold or flu, and will respond with inflammation, which is the body’s way of attacking the intruder.

The number one way that we can tell if you are not flossing is if your gums are bleeding. There are a few less common conditions that will make your gums bleed, but gingivitis is the main cause. If your daily brushing includes blood when you spit, or if you notice inflammation in your gums, leaving it unchecked by a professional can lead to bigger problems. No matter how many times you hear people say “it’s normal for your gums to bleed when you brush,” it is simply untrue. It is not normal.

Here are 12 more things we can tell just by looking into your mouth:

  1. You flossed before your appointment – and that’s the only time. Sticking with the theme, we’ll start with flossing. If it is a one-time deal, the gums bleed or look damaged
  1. Your pregnant – The best pregnancy test comes with a dental cleaning, right? Nearly 40% of women will develop gingivitis during their pregnancy. Some develop a “pregnancy tumor” or pyogenic granuloma, which is a red lump on the gums, it is benign and will go away after the pregnancy is over
  1. You bite your nails – Your teeth will show signs of wear and tear from the habit of nail biting. Signs can be chipping or cracking. The damage doesn’t actually come from the nails, but from the contact of the top and bottom teeth
  1. You used to (or still do) suck your thumb – This often leads to protruding front teeth, and can also have an impact on speech
  1. Bad breath – If your breath is still bad even after you brush, it may be categorized as halitosis
  1. You may have an eating disorder – Don’t be surprised if your dentist asks you if you have an eating disorder, such as bulimia, which shows a very distinct pattern of tooth wear
  1. You have a sinus infection – The roots of the top teeth are positioned in the same area as the floor of the sinuses, and both can show symptoms of pressure
  1. You have a vitamin deficiency – Increased infections, tissue sloughing off, bone infection, delayed healing, burning tongue syndrome, and bleeding gums are all signs of vitamin and mineral deficiency
  1. You have diabetes – Increased sensitivity, swelling, and bleeding of the gums can be signs of a sugar imbalance. This can also cause changes in saliva consistency, which leads to decay
  1. You have a drinking problem – Alcoholics tend to have more cavities than most, because alcohol has a tendency to dry the mouth out. Without proper saliva production your mouth produces more damage-causing acid
  1. You have oral cancer – Signs of oral cancer may be: swelling, lumps or bumps, change in your bite, white, red, or speckled patches in the mouth, eroded areas on the lips, gums, or within the mouth
  1. You love energy drinks – Sugary drinks in general tend to soften the tooth enamel, but energy drinks are more acidic than soft drinks and therefor do more damage

Moral of the story: floss. Plain and simple. If it is not already a part of your dental routine, start today. When you brush twice a day, floss at least once a day, and keep up on regular dental visits you will have a healthy and happy mouth.