Bad breath. Bleeding gums. Heart disease. Pain when eating. Loose teeth.
Sounds awful, right? These are only some of the symptoms of periodontitis, or gum disease. Consider also obesity, diabetes, fertility problems, and today there is a link between gum disease and dying from COVID-19.
All it takes to prevent these health problems brought on by gum disease is some basic knowledge and action on your part. Let’s explore the importance of this part of your oral health and how to have healthy gums.
Be Aware Of The Appearance Of Your Gums
Spend a minute each morning to actually look at your gums. Are they pink? Is there any discoloration or recession? If you experience any bleeding while brushing or flossing or see inflammation around any teeth, you are looking at signs of unhealthy gums.
Here are some other warning signs to look for:
- Receding gums around teeth
- White spots on gums
During your dental exams, the hygienist will tell you if you have pockets between your teeth and gums or any loss of tissue or bone. Pay attention! None of these signs will improve on their own. Bacteria will continue to grow and then invade the rest of your body, causing severe systematic problems like heart failure, diabetes, and other diseases.
By being intentional, you can adopt ways to improve your gum health. You can head off some of these problems or turn them around if they are evident already. This is good news, too, for your children.
Let’s Talk About Kids And Gum Health
According to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 5 children between the ages of five and eleven have at least one decayed tooth due to poor gum health. About 60% of children in the U.S. show signs of gum disease. That is an alarming percentage and points out the importance of educating children early on gum health.
The CDC recommends the following routine:
- Protect tiny teeth by caring for your own mouth when you’re pregnant. Your child’s future oral health starts with you.
- Wipe your baby’s gums after each meal.
- Don’t allow bottles in bed with the baby.
- Brush your child’s teeth twice daily and use fluoride toothpaste. Ask your dentist or doctor about when to start using a fluoride toothpaste for children younger than two.
- Limit added sugars in either drinks or food for children. Begin this early. Be in charge of what they eat: More fruits and vegetables and fewer fruit drinks, cookies, and candies.
- Serve water at mealtime. Make this a family habit.
- Your child’s first dental visit should be scheduled by their first birthday or after their first tooth appears.
Teach your children early how to keep their gums healthy.
Tips For Maintaining Optimal Gum Health
Think back to your latest dental exam. The hygienist probably measured the depth of each gum pocket around every tooth. They assigned a number to each pocket, from 1 to 7, with the lower numbers indicating normal depth. Once the numbers get higher, the pockets need periodontal attention to improve the gum around those teeth. And they can be improved; it’s not a lost cause.
The problem with gum pockets is the bacteria that collects in them. This is where gum disease thrives, resulting in some of those nasty symptoms mentioned earlier. But unlike many results of neglect, this can be turned around if caught soon enough. And you are the key.
Here are some tips to prevent gum disease and improve your gum health:
Brush your teeth at least twice a day–more than that can’t hurt!–and do it with intention:
- Two minutes each time
- 30-seconds in each quadrant of your mouth
- 45-degree brush angle
- Use fluoride toothpaste
- Use an antibacterial mouthwash to finish
If you can invest in a good battery-operated or electric toothbrush, you will save money in the long run with fewer visits to the dentist. These brushes do a better job than manual brushing by getting rid of plaque build-up more efficiently.
Floss once a day as a routine. Also, use floss immediately after eating to remove stubborn pieces of food that your brush isn’t dislodging. This helps protect gums from the plaque buildup along the gumline that turns into gingivitis and then more advanced gum disease.
Watch What You Eat and Drink
Limit your intake of any foods or drinks high in sugar and acid. These include candy, soft drinks, and coffee. When you do have these, take the time to brush your teeth immediately afterward. If the sugar or acid is left on the teeth, plaque and bacteria can build up along the gum line.
Here are some foods that keep the gums healthy:
- Apples – contain natural acids that clean the gums and teeth.
- Dairy products – calcium is critical to healthy teeth and gums.
- Fibrous vegetables – prompt healthy saliva production that washes away bacteria.
- Ginger root – anti-inflammatory compounds that promote healthy teeth and gums.
Smoking leads to:
- Bad breath
- Tooth discoloration
- Inflammation of salivary glands on the roof of the mouth
- Noticeable buildup of plaque and tartar on teeth
- Increased loss of bone within the jaw
- White patches inside the mouth indicating a risk of leukoplakia
- Increased risk of developing gum disease
- Delayed healing process following periodontal treatment, tooth extraction, or oral surgery
- Lower success rate of dental implant procedures
- Increased risk of developing oral cancer
This habit significantly impacts not only your gum health but your overall health as well. Just stop!
Your Dental Team Is Part Of Your Overall Health Care Team
Your twice-yearly dental visits are chances to catch problems early. The dental hygienist will clean your teeth and then the dentist will do a thorough check-up to assess the condition of your teeth and gums. If problems are identified, a customized treatment plan will take care of them before infection has a chance to invade your mouth and body. Consider TLC Dental Center part of your overall health care team!
Contact us today for an appointment!