February is National Gum Disease Awareness Month, and we are here for it! Working daily with gums makes us excited about creating awareness on how best to keep your gums healthy no matter what your age. When we say your smile thrives on good oral care, most patients typically think of their teeth, but the gums are just as crucial because, without them, your teeth would loosen and fall out!
The problem with gum disease (the infection of the gum tissue) is that it also is linked to general health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and pregnancy issues. Taking good care of your gums means your overall health will improve. Gum disease develops when oral bacteria thrive in the mouth. It does not take a lot of time for the bacteria to inflame the oral tissues and spread via the bloodstream, affecting the organs and other areas of your body. You can make a big difference in your tooth and gum health by brushing and flossing daily to remove this harmful bacterial film (plaque) from your teeth and gum line.
Are Your Gums in Good Shape?
In the early stages, gum disease is referred to as gingivitis. Left unchecked, it will continually advance until you are at the stage called periodontal disease. To protect your gum health, you will need to practice effective oral hygiene care every day, followed by periodic professional dental cleanings and exams. Your biannual dental cleanings remove hardened plaque (known as tartar or calculus), which can only be removed using special dental instruments. In between visits, keep an eye out for the signs of gum disease.
How To Spot Gum Disease
- Look for any swollen or puffy gum tissue
- Notice if your gums are bright red or bleeding
- Watch for tooth sensitivity or pain
- Don’t ignore chronic bad breath
- If your teeth feel loose or separating
- If you notice pus or sores in the mouth
- Watch for receding gums
What Causes Gum Disease?
Probably the most common cause of this insidious disease is chronic poor oral hygiene. Without daily intervention, oral bacteria thrive, harming your gums, teeth, and body. But neglecting your oral hygiene care is only partly responsible for inviting gum disease into your mouth. There are a variety of other conditions that can lead to disease:
- Using tobacco in any form
- Excessive use of alcohol
- Having crowded or overlapping teeth that are hard to brush and floss correctly
- Experiencing hormonal changes
- Having oral cancer
- Breathing via the mouth, leading to dry mouth by reducing saliva production
- Constant, unrelieved stress
- Consuming a non-nutritious diet of high sugar or starches
- Poor diabetes control
- Insufficient dental care from skipped dental visits
- Your gums turning white (they should be pink)
So, what can you do to prevent gum disease or keep it from worsening? It is where improvements to your daily habits can have the biggest impact:
- Brush: Brush at least twice a day for two minutes each time. Wait about half an hour after eating so that you don’t wear down enamel from food particles.
- Floss: Flossing cleans areas of the teeth and gum line that brushing alone can’t effectively clean. Floss at least once a day to remove debris between the teeth and near the gums. Be sure to floss between each tooth individually.
- Keep your dental appointments: Your teeth and gums can suffer if you go too long without having a dental checkup and cleaning. Six-month checkups are important to get rid of tartar. If you have signs of gum disease, feel pain or discomfort, please don’t wait! Call our team as soon as possible, and we will help you get the treatment you need.
- Eat healthier: Your teeth, gums, and body thrive when you eat a balanced diet with nutritious essentials. Even drinking healthy smoothies or other beverages good for you can make the difference between a healthy or unhealthy smile. Avoid sugary drinks and snacks that build up sticky bacteria. Rinse your mouth out with water after you eat and drink if you are not brushing right away.
What if You Have Gum Disease?
Depending on the state of your gums, there are several solutions to get your smile back on track:
- A professional dental cleaning and exam
- A scaling and root planing
- A gum pocket reduction
- A gum graft or soft tissue graft
- Take prescribed medication
- Use medicated toothpaste or mouthwash
- Have root canal therapy performed
Your smile needs daily care and good habits, especially if you want to keep your teeth and gums healthy (and in place). We welcome you to call our office if you have any issues or concerns about your gums. This National Gum Disease Awareness Month, resolve to take the best care of your teeth and gums!