by West Coast Dental
Did you know that unhealthy gums could be making you sick? Gums are often overlooked in favor of our teeth when it comes to dental hygiene, but poor gum health has been linked to many other diseases. The Academy of General Dentistry agrees, stating that “research shows a link between oral health and systemic conditions.” These conditions include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and even cancer. Improving your gum health will benefit the function and appearance of your smile, and your overall health and wellbeing. It could even help you live longer.
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Gums
Before we get into the ways that you can improve gum health, it’s important to recognize the difference between healthy and unhealthy gums. Healthy gums look firm and pink and sit tight to the teeth. Common signs of unhealthy gums include redness, swelling, bleeding when you brush them and receding away from the teeth. When left untreated, these symptoms can turn into gum disease which is known as periodontal disease/periodontitis and can cause irreparable damage. Tooth loss, jawbone deterioration and even changes to your facial structure may occur. Fortunately, there are many ways you can improve your gum health.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services believes that interdental cleaners, like floss “are an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums.” This is because flossing removes plaque and food debris that your toothbrush just can’t reach. Dentists recommend you floss at least once each day using traditional floss or an alternative like an interdental brush or water flosser.
Brush Your Teeth Twice Each Day
Most people already know that they should brush their teeth at least twice each day. Nevertheless, it’s crucial not to cut corners. Dentists recommend you brush for at least two minutes each time, working your way methodically across the teeth. Don’t forget your tongue which can harbor bacteria and cause bad breath, too. Use fluoride toothpaste and a small toothbrush with soft bristles since firm bristles can actually damage your gums.
Drink Plenty of Water
Water is the best thing that you can drink if you want to maintain a healthy mouth and fantastic smile. Drinking water can help flush away food debris that could otherwise cause plaque to form. Swap soft and caffeinated drinks for water where possible, and always have still water [not sparkling water] with your snacks and meals.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state, “Smoking is an important cause of severe gum disease in the United States.” In fact, smokers have twice the risk for gum disease compared with a non-smoker. This is because smoking weakens your body’s immune system making it harder to fight off a gum infection. Smoking also inhibits blood flow which makes it harder for damaged gums to heal. If you smoke, it is recommended that you quit today to immediately start improving the long-term health of your gums.
Get Regular Dental Cleanings
Regular dental cleanings give your dentist an opportunity to monitor the healthiness of your gum tissue. If you have signs of moderate gum disease such as receding gums, a deep cleaning will remove plaque, tartar and bacteria from the pockets that form between your gums and teeth. This will help your gums heal and reattach to your teeth. We recommend that you schedule a professional dental cleaning with us every 6 months to keep your gums as healthy as possible.
Unhealthy gums don’t have to lead to tooth loss and serious health problems. As the California Dental Association (CDA) recognizes, “The best way to prevent periodontal disease is to practice good oral hygiene … and by doing so, you’ll increase your chances of keeping your teeth for a lifetime.” For more information on recognizing the signs of gum disease or advice on improving your gum health, don’t hesitate to book and appointment.
Know Your Teeth – ABCs of Oral Health
American Dental Association (ADA) – Government, ADA recognize importance of flossing
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Smoking, Gum Disease, and Tooth Loss
California Dental Association (CDA) – Gum Disease A Guide to Periodontal Disease
MouthHealthy – 4 Reasons Water Is the Best Beverage for Your Teeth