The silent gum disease 95 percent of dentists miss—and the easy toothpaste swap that cures it
Roslyn Singleton, 55, was sidelined by fatigue and brain fog—until she discovered the surprising culprit and simple strategies that gave her energy to spare
Get it together. Your family is counting on you,” Roslyn told herself between yawns on the three-hour drive to check on her 84-year-old mother. “I’d just learned that Mom hadn’t been taking her medication and was in the hospital again—I needed to be there. I fought to keep my eyes open as I signaled for the next highway exit, desperately needing coffee to shake off my exhaustion so I could get back on the road fast.
“Every day, I tried to power through my sluggishness. Activities that once came easily, like grocery shopping, suddenly seemed torturous. I was a group fitness instructor, yet within five minutes of leading a class at my gym I’d be dragging, worrying, How am I going to make it through a whole hour? With 50 sets of eyes staring back at me, I stressed over whether or not people could tell I was struggling. The weird thing: I wasn’t out of shape. I’d been a certified trainer for 30 years, ate a balanced diet and took care of myself. So why was I daydreaming of napping in my car?
“I didn’t feel spot-on mentally either. In the morning I’d be frazzled wondering, Where did I leave my keys? Or I’d have to turn my car around to retrieve something I’d forgotten. At night when I looked at my to-do list,
I’d think, I don’t want to tackle any projects that require a lot of brainpower. I just need to crash.
“At first I chalked it up to fatigue and fog, as well as chronic sinus infections and needing antacids daily. Not to mention my busy life—I worked long days of 10, 12, sometimes
14 hours to get everything done. Plus, I prided myself on being the solid rock for my whole extended family.
“My personal life was affected too. I often had a weird taste in my mouth, so I stressed about bad breath. When I was in the gym closely training a client, I didn’t want to open my mouth, or even smile, for fear of breathing in their face. I’d brush and re-brush my teeth and use a ton of antiseptic mouthwash, but still worried. In all honesty, fears about my breath kept me from socializing.
“Despite it all, I didn’t want to complain to my doctor. I considered myself tough—someone who could deal with inconvenience. I figured the doctor would write off my symptoms as aging
or hormonal changes, so I pushed through, telling myself, This is normal.
“Then when I noticed my gums start to feel tender and bleed occasionally when I flossed, I thought I was really falling apart. One day I mentioned to my mom that I’d been so busy, I hadn’t been to the dentist in a few years. She had just gotten out of the hospital and knew the value of health, so she urged me to get my butt there soon. Mom was right. It was time to take care of myself.
The root cause
“My amazing dentist, Bobbi Stanley, D.D.S., examined my mouth and diagnosed gingivitis, a form of periodontal disease. At first, I was angry I’d let this happen, but thankful to hear it was treatable. And I was shocked when
Dr. Stanley explained that oral health impacts overall health, and that hidden inflammation in my gums had been sending microbes to the rest of my body, lowering my immunity, clouding my thinking and triggering my other symptoms. What a revelation!
“The day after my oral cleaning, I woke up feeling energized and painfree, which was such a blessing because I had to rush to the hospital to check on another ill family member.
“With my dentist’s guidance, I made tweaks to keep my mouth healthy. In addition to brushing and flossing, I cut back on sugary and acidic foods and took a good multivitamin. To help clear away germs, I used a water pick or dental sticks and an alcohol-free, nonchemical mouthwash (since alcohol reduces the production of antibacterial saliva). I also started rinsing my mouth out with water after meals.
“Within three months, most of my health complaints—sinus pressure, brain fog, breath worries— were gone. I also stopped needing antacids. And at my return visit to the dentist four months later, she told me how much my inflamed, receded gums had improved.
“Now I handle everything better. I’m teaching five fitness classes a week and have an extra kick in my step. And when I talk to my training clients, I tell them, ‘If you’re tired, it’s time to go see your dentist!’
“I’m so grateful to have more energy to care for Mom and to mentor my teenage nieces to become strong women. You could say this ‘rock’ of the family is even more solid now. And that gives me a lot to smile about!”
—as told to Lisa Maxbauer
Roslyn Singleton, Cary, NC