When most patients think about dental care and oral hygiene, they think that we do these things for the health of our teeth. While this is true, oral care is also essential to maintaining the health of your gums, and gum health can have a major impact on both the health of your teeth and your entire body.
WHY IT’S SO IMPORTANT TO MAINTAIN THE HEALTH OF YOUR GUMS
When gum health is neglected, the most common problem that occurs is a bacterial infection called periodontal disease or gum disease. Gum disease develops when plaque and tartar accumulate along the gum line, forming pockets between the teeth and gums where bacterial thrive.
This infection can lead to several health problems including:
- Receding, bleeding, swollen, red, painful gums
- Teeth sensitivity
- Loose teeth
- Tooth loss
- Tooth decay
- Jawbone deterioration
- Systemic infections
- Organ damage
- Generalize inflammation
Left untreated, periodontal disease has been shown to contribute to a variety of systemic diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, reproductive health issues, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and more.
3 TIPS TO KEEP YOUR GUMS HEALTHY
1. Practice Good Oral Hygiene at Home
Properly brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day can help you prevent gum disease in addition to tooth decay and a whole host of other oral health problems. These healthy habits help to keep your mouth, gums, and tooth surfaces free of sugars, acids, and plaque (a sticky, white substance that contains bacteria and eventually hardens into tartar).
In order for these oral hygiene habits to be truly effective, it’s essential that you practice them using the proper methods. When flossing, gently push the floss between each of your teeth. Then before sliding it up and down the tooth, pull it around the tooth, forming a “C” shape with the floss so that it hugs the tooth’s curves and surfaces. Be sure to move the floss in both directions along each tooth’s sides and be gentle so as not to cut your gums.
Teeth should be brushed for two minutes (30 seconds per quadrant) using a toothbrush with soft bristles. Angle your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your teeth and gum line for optimal cleaning. Be careful not to press too hard, as this can damage and irritate the gums.
We strongly encourage our patients to invest in a high-quality electric toothbrush, such as a Sonicare, that uses high-frequency vibrations to break up plaque along the gum line in addition to providing you with an automatic timer so that you always brush for the recommended two minutes.
2. Visit the Dentist Regularly
Each day, our teeth and gums are exposed to sugars, acids, and plaque. Over time, plaque can build up and harden onto the surface of the teeth. This substance is called tartar or calculus, and it can be very difficult to remove with brushing and flossing alone.
As tartar accumulates on the surface of the teeth, it pushes the gums away from the teeth, creating small pockets of space where harmful bacteria (the bacteria responsible for gum disease) thrive. Allowing plaque and tartar to remain on the surface of the teeth can lead to the development of gingivitis and gum disease.
Brushing and flossing at home can slow the accumulation of tartar on the teeth in addition to limiting the exposure to sugar and acids.
However, visiting the dentist regularly for prophylactic dental cleanings and dental examinations is the best way to prevent gum disease. During your dental cleaning, a hygienist will scale and polish your teeth. This process gently removes accumulated tartar and plaque (in addition to stains) to help maintain healthy gums.
3. Maintain Your General Health
Unhealthy habits like tobacco and alcohol use increase oral inflammation and can harm the health of your gums, making them more susceptible to bacterial infections like periodontal disease. Additionally, these habits can also stain your teeth.
Keeping yourself generally healthy, quitting unhealthy habits, and feeding yourself a balanced and nutritious diet can also help you maintain your gum health from the inside out. When your body is strong, so is your immune system. This will help your body be better able to reduce inflammation and fight off early signs of bacterial infections in and around your gums and oral cavity.
PREVENTIVE DENTAL CARE, PERIODONTAL DISEASE TREATMENT, AND GUM CARE
At South Dayton Smiles, we treat each of our patient’s dental care as an integral component of their overall health and wellbeing. Without healthy teeth and gums, the health of the entire body can suffer. Our dentists specialize in treating the whole patient, and we offer a variety of treatments designed to help prevent and treat periodontal disease in addition to helping our patients maintain the health of their gums.
To learn more about periodontal disease, periodontal disease treatments, and how preventive dentistry can safeguard your overall health, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with one of our dentists today.