From the time we are old enough to hold a toothbrush in our hand, we are taught how to brush, floss, and care for our teeth. We were warned about cavities that can result from too much candy and sugar, and we even learned that brushing our teeth prevents bad breath and rotting teeth. While maintaining a brushing and flossing routine for your teeth from an early age onward is detrimental to your overall dental hygiene, we sometimes fail to treat our gums with the care and attention that they need. Too often, gum health is undermined by adults, and the consequences of their negligence can get really ugly over time.
Whether you need a little motivation in the gums and oral hygiene department or you would like some insight on the ways in which you can improve your gum health, right here is a great place to start.
Why gum care matters
If you’re reading this, you might be wondering why it’s so important to pay closer attention to your gums when brushing. I mean, you don’t really use them to chew, and for the most part, it may seem like they go relatively unbothered by things that irritate teeth, such as food and beverages we consume. However, brushing your gums along with your teeth is absolutely essential for a number of reasons.
First of all, avoiding your gums while you are brushing will cause an intense buildup of plaque. This means that the bacteria we contact through food and drinks will start to accumulate and rest on your gums, eventually causing a cavity to form. Just like brushing your teeth, brushing your gums will also help further prevent halitosis, or as most of us call it, “bad breath.” Poor gum health also is a huge contributor to premature tooth loss in adults. Brushing your gums provides them with the healthy circulation they need to support and foster healthy, strong teeth.
Over 75 percent of Americans ages 35 and older suffer from some kind of gum disease, usually in relation to their poor gum health. This is alarming for a multitude of reasons, one of them being it can cause heart disease, diabetes, and other serious diseases. Gingivitis is the most common and mildest form of gum disease. Those affected typically will notice a shift in their gums’ color from pink to red, and their gums may even be swollen or more susceptible to bleeding when brushing. While gingivitis may cause little or no discomfort to the individual, it should be noted that there is a number of underlying, more serious conditions that can cause gingivitis, such as diabetes, malnourishment, and HIV infection.
Although gingivitis may feel harmless, it is imperative that it is treated, either at home or by a professional. If gingivitis does go untreated, there is a good chance it will eventually advance to periodontitis, which is much more threatening to your health. Periodontitis occurs when plaque is not removed from the gum line for long periods of time. This plaque is filled with toxins that sprout from bacteria and irritate the gums, which will cause the body to chronically defend itself against infection. When your body goes into this defense mode in attempt to fight off infection, the tissues and bone that provide support for your teeth slowly break down and deteriorate. Typically, most patients with periodontitis will experience a separation of their gums from their teeth, which leave them with deep pockets in between that are quick to become infected. As time goes on, the gaps between the teeth and gums will continue to grow deeper, allowing more gum tissue and bones to be further destroyed by the infection. Symptoms of periodontitis include bleeding while brushing or eating certain foods, receding gums from teeth, loose or separating teeth, pus and gunk between teeth and gums, mouth sores, relentless halitosis, and a change in how your teeth meet when you bite.
Properly caring for your gums
The results of neglecting gum health can be quite frightening, but, luckily, there are several measures you can take in order to avoid developing or, in many cases, worsening gum disease and further damaging your teeth. Simply brushing and flossing every day for at least two minutes with fluoride toothpaste will help stop gum infection in its tracks, assuming that you are sure to also brush your gums in the process.
While brushing your gums is a must, it is also important to ensure that you aren’t brushing them too hard, as gums are very sensitive and this may cause more discomfort and irritation. Predictably, it is also necessary that you stay consistent and up-to-date with your dentist appointments and professional teeth cleanings. This will help both prevent and stay aware of any sudden onset of symptoms that may be related to gum diseases.
In mild cases like gingivitis, brushing, flossing, and frequent thorough teeth cleaning might suffice as effective treatment for gum disease. However, under more serious circumstances like periodontitis, professional treatment is often required. Your dentist may want to try scaling and root planing, a minimally invasive treatment that involves scraping plaque and tartar from the teeth and its surfaces through scaling and then smoothing over the roots in order to stop bacteria from gathering there again.This process may have to happen a few a times in order to reach its ultimate effectivity, but it is usually successful in its mission of healing teeth and gums damaged by the infectious disease. Some dentists also recommend surgical procedures such as bone grafting to help restore gum health.
Regardless of the methods by which your dentist chooses to treat your disease, it is absolutely imperative that you continue to take the right precautions at home as well. Ultimately the best defense against gum disease is prevention. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!