Truth be told, people do not think about the health of their gums frequently enough. Most of us are concerned about whether or not our teeth are stained or if we have bad breath. However, we are doing ourselves a disservice by not paying attention to our gums. After all, gum health is tied to overall health.
Gums are the soft skin meant to protect your teeth. The tight seal formed by this tissue serves as a barrier to disease-causing bacteria. Plaque formation comes from food particles left over from meals not being cleaned off in a timely manner. Failing to remove this plaque can cause gingivitis, which is a condition that causes the irritation and inflammation of the gums. If left untreated, this can become a periodontal disease––a low-grade infection of the gums. While that might not sound life-threatening, people with a periodontal disease are at a greater risk for cardiovascular disease and respiratory infections.
If you think you might have gum disease (and you are more likely to be at risk if you are over the age of 35), you might have experienced some of the following symptoms:
With that in mind, let’s talk about how we can take care of your gums and keep them healthy.
I’m sure someone in your life has harped on the importance of flossing. Your dentist certainly has. And they were right. It is important to floss at least once daily. While flossing can be time-consuming, removing plaque and food particulates between your teeth is important for gum health. It doesn’t matter when you floss. Just do it!
2. Regular Dental Cleanings
The most important protectant against gum disease is your regularly scheduled dentist appointment. No one knows more about gum disease than your dentist, and they will be to detect it early if you remember to schedule your appointments. In addition, the cleanings associated with these visits will more effectively clean away plaque and tartar that contributes to gum disease, periodontal diseases, and other oral health-related problems.
3. Cease Smoking
If you’re not a smoker, then this advice is not for you. If you are a smoker, then you probably already have plenty of reasons to quit. An important reason to add to that list is that smoking increases the likelihood of gum disease. If you also factor in that smoking
lowers the strength of your immune system, then fighting gum disease is even more difficult. Stop now and allow your gums to heal. Your future self will thank you.
Brush your teeth in the morning; brush them at night. Brush your teeth before breakfast. The truth is that you should be brushing your teeth after every meal. Food particulates are what lead to plaque, so scrubbing your tongue and using a soft-bristled toothbrush to get between your teeth lowers your risk of gum disease. While manual brushing works, consider selecting a battery-powered or electric toothbrush to clean your teeth even better.
5. Oral Health Tools
Fluoride toothpaste as been the bane of arguments over the years, but fluoride toothpastes have been linked to fresher breath, whiter teeth, a reduced risk of gingivitis, a reduction of tartar buildup, and a variety of other benefits. Consider a therapeutic mouthwash as well to double down on the benefits. But remember, it is the combination of flossing, brushing, and mouthwash; be sure to use them all for healthy gums.
Gum disease is more prevalent than a lot of people realize, and its long-term effects can be deleterious to say the least. Periodontal disease and increased risks for cardiovascular disease are among the outcomes if you don’t take care of your gums. Fortunately, there is a lot you can do. Be sure to brush and floss daily, especially following meals. If you’re a smoker, then do yourself a favor and quit to reduce the risks of gum disease. And perhaps most importantly, schedule regular cleanings with your dentist, as they are the greatest possible risk prevention. Prevention is possible if you take the time to develop habits that will keep your gums healthy and disease-free.