When it comes to oral health, it’s about so much more than just teeth. Your gums play a critical role in maintaining a healthy mouth, and even in ensuring your teeth remain healthy and strong. Even if your teeth are cavity free and aesthetically beautiful, that doesn’t mean you are immune to gum disease. Gum disease can oftentimes be completely painless, and therefore difficult to detect.
Understanding Gum Disease
Gum disease affects 47.2% of adults ages 30 and up, according to the CDC. It begins with plaque that builds up under and along the gum line, and can cause infections that hurt the gum and bone, leading to tooth decay and other issues. The presence of plaque can also cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Gingivitis can cause your gums to become red, tender, swollen, and inflamed, and can cause bleeding as well. As unpleasant as that sounds, the upside is that this damage is completely reversible.
Periodontitis, however, is a more advanced stage of gum disease, and can impact the bones that hold your teeth in place within the mouth. If left untreated, this can be the ruin of gums, bones, and tissues inside the mouth. The final and most serious stage of gum disease is advanced periodontitis, and in this phase, the fibers and bone supporting your teeth are destroyed. This can result in issues with your bite as well as tooth loss.
Per the American Dental Association (the ADA), signs that you may have gum disease include:
Consistently bad breath A consistently bad taste in your mouth Separating or loose permanent teeth Gums that easily bleed Gums that are red, swollen, or tender Gums that have pulled away from your teeth
Keeping Gums Healthy
A positive thing to note here is that gum disease is completely preventable, and here are a few tips for healthy gums that will help you evade these problems when it comes you your own oral health.
1– FLOSS ‘EM
Just do it, ok? Floss your teeth at least once per day to help remove plaque and food particles that are beyond the reach of your toothbrush. It doesn’t really matter that much when you do it, just do it!
2– BRUSH TWICE A DAY
Brush at least twice a day, or even better yet, after every meal. Brushing your teeth removes food bits and plaque that can build up on your teeth and gums. You’ll also want to brush your tongue, which can be a hotspot for all sorts of problem-causing bacteria (and stinky breath). Your toothbrush should ideally have soft bristles and fit comfortably in your mouth.
3– FLUORIDE OR DIE
Let your fluoride toothpaste be your oral health ride or die. Your toothpaste aisle might have you a little overwhelmed with options, but no matter what you do, be sure to choose a toothpaste that contains fluoride and has the ADA seal of acceptance. Type, flavor, brand is all completely your call.
4– SWISH N’ SPIT
The next tip for healthy gums is to use an over the counter therapeutic mouthwash. This can help reduce plaque, prevent gingivitis, and reduce the speed at which tartar develops in the mouth. More than that, the actual act of swishing and rinsing helps to loosen and remove food particles and debris that can take up residence in the mouth. Just remember mouthwash is not a suitable alternative to regular brushing and flossing, but an additional step that can do a lot of good!
5– DON’T SMOKE
Smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your gums. Smoking is strongly associated with the development of gum disease, and even makes it harder to fight off gum infections by weakening your immune system, according to the CDC. Smoking also makes it harder for your gums to heal after facing damage.
6– MAKE YOUR DENTIST YOUR BFF
The final tip for healthy gums is to prioritize dental cleanings and exams. Your dentist can help diagnose any issues that arise early, and help ensure you get the treatments necessary for maintaining your overall oral health. Professional dental cleanings are also necessary for removing tartar build up on the teeth and along the gumline, which can cause problems if left untreated.
If it’s time for a dental check up, contact our team at Tedford Family Dentistry today, and we’ll get you taken care of. In the meantime, make your oral health a priority with these tips for healthy gums. We assure you, you won’t regret the extra effort!