September is National Gum Care Month, and we’re excited to share some tips to keep your smile healthy and strong. Most people think of tooth loss as a result of tooth decay, but did you know that losing teeth is often a result of gum disease? Brushing and flossing daily as well as regularly seeing your dentist can stop cavities and gum disease in their tracks.
What Gum Disease Looks Like
The early phase of gum disease is called gingivitis, and it happens when your gums have a bacterial infection, leaving gums red and bleeding. Unless your dentist catches it early and addresses the problem, this harmful bacterial infection will continue to worsen until it turns into periodontitis (incidentally, the main cause of tooth loss), as the gums can no longer hold the teeth in place. If you notice any signs of problems with your gums, it’s time to visit our dentist for an intervention! Need more convincing? Take a look at the stages of gum disease to see where your smile could be.
Gum Disease Phases
-Gingivitis: In this phase, you’ll notice bleeding and occasionally inflammation and discomfort in your gums along with a buildup of plaque and tartar. Gingivitis can be reversed by scaling and root planing, followed by routine at-home oral hygiene care, and a healthy diet that supports gum health (foods rich in vitamin C, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids). Eat plenty of citrus fruits, berries, and leafy greens for vitamin C. Consume milk, eggs, meat, and certain breads, pastas, and cereals fortified with B12. You can add flaxseed oil and fish to get enough omega-3 fatty acids.
-Mild-to-moderate periodontitis: This phase of gum disease stems from untreated gingivitis. It allows periodontal pockets to develop around the tooth, causing vital bone and tissue to diminish. You will see chronic bleeding and pain around the teeth along with gum recession, and the infected areas can cause an inflammatory response throughout your body.
-Severe periodontitis: This is the phase of gum disease you want to avoid at all costs as it is the most advanced. It manifests as extensive bone and tissue loss where teeth will loosen and need replacing.
Poor gum health doesn’t just affect your oral health; it also affects your looks and, consequently, your self-esteem and self-confidence as it causes you to look older than you are. But also keeping teeth healthy is less costly than replacing those lost teeth. And as we already mentioned, gum disease affects your overall health by causing systemic inflammatory conditions, like heart disease, diabetes, and even autoimmune problems.
Caring for Your Gums
Healthy gums come from maintaining healthy dental hygiene habits like brushing (at least twice a day) and flossing daily to get rid of harmful plaque and prevent the formation of tartar. When flossing, don’t force the floss down hard on your gums. Instead, gently pass the floss down your teeth and swipe the side of each tooth down the gums to lift plaque, bits of food, and stray bacteria. When cleaning your mouth, remember to brush your tongue, too, because bacteria love to gather there. Drink lots of water to flush away bacteria and bits of food particles and replenish your saliva production to protect your teeth and gums.
Following a healthy diet that supports gum health will also go a long way to improving your smile. If you have gone a long time without good dental care, you may need multiple visits to get your gum disease under control, so don’t delay, call today! Since this is National Gum Care Month, why not schedule your next visit?