The new year is officially in full swing, and many of us feel inspired to set goals for improving our health. If this describes you, don’t forget to include your oral health! A healthy mouth, especially healthy gums, is worth striving for, especially since good gum health protects you from tooth loss and even bone loss.
Why Healthy Gums Matter
Healthy gums keep teeth in their proper position by holding them in place. Healthy gums snugly wrap around your teeth, providing a protective barrier that keeps out harmful bacteria. Without their support, the tooth ligaments can’t fully anchor them in the bony socket where they belong. Over time, if this bacterial invasion reaches these ligaments, it can destroy the bone, and you may lose those teeth.
Evaluating Gum Health
When you look into the mirror, your gums should look pale pink and feel firm when you touch them. They also won’t bleed when you brush or floss your teeth. There is a problem when your gums feel tender, look red, and bleed easily whenever you clean, brush and floss your teeth.
These are all signs of gum disease, which has two stages. The early stage (gingivitis) is still mild and involves inflamed and swollen gums that bleed when you brush your teeth. Stepping up your hygiene game and dental cleanings can often turn it around so your gums can heal.
However, the advanced stage of gum disease is known as periodontal disease, and it is serious. If you don’t get periodontal help during this stage, you may find yourself with gum pockets, gum recession, and ultimately tooth or bone loss. The most effective approach to overcoming gum disease is meeting with our periodontist for an accurate evaluation and timely treatment. The sooner your gums are treated, the quicker they can heal with minimal damage to gums, teeth, and bones.
Gum Disease Affects the Body
Untreated gum disease affects your body, too, as harmful bacteria travel through your bloodstream. Because of this mouth-to-body access, the oral bacterium that causes periodontitis has been linked to the following:
- Cancer: Certain types of cancer, like pancreatic cancer, are linked to gum disease.
- Strokes: Arising from blocked blood vessels, strokes are also linked to periodontal disease from inflammation in the body.
- Diabetes: Inflammation from diseased gum tissue affects blood sugar control. When diabetics don’t process sugar properly from a lack of insulin, periodontal disease can further impede your body’s ability to process insulin.
Creating Healthy Gums
Promoting gum health means taking better care of them. Start by brushing and flossing per your dentist’s recommendations to prevent harmful oral bacteria from having the chance to build up into dental plaque and harden into tartar. Using toothpaste with fluoride can offer extra protection for your tooth enamel to ward off decay. Rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash once or twice a day also helps control oral bacteria and keep your mouth fresher.
Promote gum health by consuming a balanced diet that is high in vitamin C and calcium. Winter means there is plenty of citrus options in your local supermarket. Oranges, clementines, and kiwis are exceptionally high in vitamin C and are loaded with vitamins and minerals that support tooth and gum health.
Saliva is a vital component of healthy teeth and gums, and a lack of it actively contributes to gum disease. Promote healthy saliva levels to combat the germs in your mouth. Boost your saliva levels by drinking plenty of water throughout the day and limiting alcohol and caffeinated beverages as they are diuretics.
Schedule a Visit
If you have issues with your gums, we invite you to schedule an appointment with our periodontal team. We are excited to help you reach your gum health goals for this new year so you can maintain a healthy, beautiful smile all year round!