Everyone wants to have a gleaming smile and perfect white teeth. But a healthy smile begins with the gums. The gums are the foundation of the mouth. If you have a problem with the base it will eventually start to impact the rest of the structure. For example, sore and puffy gums can lead to tooth decay and bone loss. But gum issues do not stop at the mouth. Studies have tied poor oral health and hygiene to conditions affecting the immune system, lungs, heart, and brain.
Most gum problems can be attributed to plaque. Plaque is a sticky film that coats the teeth and that contains millions of bacteria. If it is not removed daily, it begins to harden into a crusty layer called tarter. The bacteria contained in the tarter produces acid that erodes the tooth enamel and causes gum tenderness and inflammation--gingivitis.
Gingivitis can usually be reversed through better brushing and flossing techniques along with regular dentist appointments. But if it is left unchecked it can progress into periodontitis. Periodontitis is a more serious infection in which pockets of bacteria form along the gumline. These bacteria contain toxins that break down the bones and tissues that hold the teeth in place. As if that were not bad enough, doctors suspect that inflammation in the gums causes inflammation throughout the rest of the body.
Luckily, keeping your gums happy and healthy is not a hard task. 99% of gum problems can be prevented with a few good habits. And if you are already suffering from gum issues there are ways to possibly undo the issues.
Signs of Trouble
Do you notice a little blood when you brush or floss? The blood could be due to the fact you brush too hard, but it could also be due to a build-up in plaque. The color of your gums could be another signal of potential issues. Healthy gums vary in color from a medium pink to a light brown, depending on your skin tone. Dark red gums are a sign of a serious issue such as periodontitis. In addition, keep your eye out for gum recession. Gum recession can be brought on by genetics, brushing too hard, or grinding your teeth. But the vast majority of gum recession cases are caused by plaque and tartar build-up.
The Hormone Factor
You may be a stickler for oral health and still develop gum issues. That is because your hormones can wreak havoc on your mouth. For example, a pregnant woman or a woman going through menopause could potentially experience gum problems.
Tweak Your Habits
To help keep your mouth in pristine condition there are several things you can do. Number one, use a soft bristle toothbrush. Soft bristles are not only easier on the gums but they are also more flexible, which allows you to reach certain areas you may have previously missed. Number two, consider switching to an electric toothbrush. Research shows that an electric toothbrush removes 21% more plaque from your teeth. Number three, think of brushing your teeth like a nice, soft polish. Use circular motions when you brush and brush for about two minutes. Number four, floss before you brush your teeth. Flossing is important because it reaches places your toothbrush cannot. If you are not a fan of string floss try a water pick. Finally, do not skip the semiannual visits to your dentist. Besides thoroughly cleaning your teeth, the dentist can detect potential problems early on.
October 2019 Edition