September is National Gum Care month, making it an ideal time for us to raise awareness of the importance of gum care and help patients to understand the steps that they can take to improve on the health of their gums.
Understand the importance of gum health
Many people believe that healthy teeth are the cornerstone of great oral health. However, underestimating the importance of the gums is a grave error that could put your smile, your oral health and even your general wellbeing at risk. The gums play a crucial role in supporting our teeth. As well as being held in place by the root and socket, the gums seal the tooth in place, attaching to them and forming a barrier that protects the root from bacteria and food particles that could lead to infection.
Gum disease occurs when bacteria naturally found in the mouth interact with sugars in the food that we eat to produce plaque – a thin, sticky and colorless substance that continually forms on the teeth. Plaque needs to be removed by brushing to prevent decay and other dental problems, including gum disease. When plaque is left on the teeth, it can spread onto the gum tissue, causing irritation and soreness. Eventually, the bacteria start to cause infection, resulting in the symptoms of gum disease.
Gum disease is a progressive condition which means that if it isn’t dealt with promptly, the effects will get continually worse until you experience irreparable damage to your oral health. At its severest stage, called periodontitis, advanced gum disease can cause tooth loss, deterioration of the jawbone and severe infection. Studies have also found that patients with periodontitis are more likely to develop chronic health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease and stroke.
Know what healthy gums look like
Do you know what healthy gums should look like? Would you know if there was a problem with your gums just by looking at them? The early signs of gum disease are subtle and easily overlooked, but that’s not to say that it’s impossible to tell that there is a problem with them. Healthy gums look form and pink, with no unusual discoloration or swelling.
Signs of gum disease include:
Gums that are red and sore
A bad taste in your mouth
Gums that are pulling away from the teeth
Gaps between the teeth and gums
If you experience any of these symptoms, or if your teeth appear loose or shift, you should make an appointment to see your dentist to discuss your gum health.
Preventing gum disease
Fortunately, there are a variety of things that you can do to help take care of your gum health and keep gum disease at bay. These include the following:
Remember to brush your teeth at least twice each day, using a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste.
Invest in an electric toothbrush, which can help to remove plaque more efficiently and with less effort.
Make flossing an integral part of your daily oral hygiene routine. Flossing removes plaque, bacteria, and food from between the teeth where a toothbrush can’t reach or isn’t as effective.
Stick to a healthy diet that is low in sugar, remembering to rinse your mouth with water after snacks and meals.
Choosing water and zero-sugar drinks as much as possible.
Quit smoking. Smoking is one of the biggest contributors towards the development of gum disease, largely because it inhibits our ability to fight infections, such as those affecting the gums.
Visit your dentist regularly. Not only can they monitor the health and condition of your teeth and gums, they can also provide professional cleaning, using tools and techniques only available to them and that provide an enhanced clean far greater than you can provide at home.
If you have any concerns about the health of your gums, or to find out more about how to improve your gum health, please call Boss Dental Care at (361) 245-5400 to speak with our friendly and knowledgeable dental team today.