Did you know that keeping your gums healthy is just as important as looking after your teeth?
We’ll explain why in this post and give you some tips on how to keep your gums healthy for all-around great oral hygiene.
Why are healthy gums important?
Keeping your gums healthy means your teeth and mouth are healthy too. Your gums support your teeth, so if they become diseased, chances are your teeth will suffer, and you may even lose them.
The state of your gums can affect other aspects of your health as well. Inflammation from severe gum disease has been linked to poor heart health (1), leaving you at increased risk of stroke and heart disease.
Other studies have also found a link between poor gum hygiene and respiratory disease (2).
Poor gum health can have an impact on your emotional wellbeing too. As advanced gum disease (periodontitis) can lead to tooth loss, this can severely affect self-esteem and confidence.
What issues can affect gums?
Let’s take a look at some of the issues that can affect your gums.
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums, usually caused by bacterial infection because of poor oral hygiene. You may be more vulnerable to gingivitis if you smoke, are pregnant or have crowded teeth. If left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis, a serious gum infection.
The first symptom you may notice is your gums bleeding when you brush. You may also find that your teeth become loose or experience sensitivity.
Fortunately, gingivitis can be treated in a number of ways, including:
- Deep cleaning by your dentist
- Improved oral hygiene practised at home
- Quitting smoking
- Special mouthwash
- In more serious cases, dental surgery
Periodontitis is a severe gum infection with the same causes and risk factors as gingivitis. In fact, it’s the next stage on from gingivitis if left untreated.
With periodontitis, you will likely experience bleeding from the gums, pain, bad breath and possibly tooth loss.
Just like gingivitis, if periodontitis is caught early enough, it can be treated with deep cleaning, antibiotics, improved oral hygiene or even surgery. However, sometimes tooth loss cannot be prevented.
Other issues that affect the gums include:
- Gum recession — This is when the margin of your gums pulls away from the teeth, exposing the roots. This can be caused by grinding your teeth, brushing too aggressively or other factors such as chewing tobacco.
- Gum abscess — This is a painful, pus-filled swelling in the gum caused by bacterial infection.
- Oral cancer — This sometimes shows up as a white or red patch or a sore on the gums. It’s important to get checked by your dentist without delay if you suspect oral cancer.
How to keep the gums healthy
If you have any concerns about your gum health, such as bleeding gums, visit your dentist so they can check for gum infections and periodontal disease.
They can then diagnose your issue and suggest a treatment plan.
To keep your gums healthy, you can take the following steps:
- See your dentist regularly for check-ups.
- Brush your teeth and gumline at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss and use mouthwash.
- Replace your toothbrush every three months.
It’s also useful to know what to avoid for healthy gums:
- Steer clear of sugary food and drinks.
- If you’re a smoker, get support to quit.
The best way to prevent gum disease is to see your local dentist in Auckland, who can assess the state of your health and gums.
So why not come along and see the friendly team at Opal Dental? We’re experienced in all aspects of oral health, including issues that affect the gums. Give us a call to make that appointment — there’s nothing our dentists love more than helping you keep your teeth and gums healthy!
1. Ngamdu K, Mallawaarachchi I, Dunipace E, Chuang L, Jafri S, Shah N, Jeong Y, Morrison A, Bhatt D. ‘Association Between Periodontal Disease and Cardiovascular Disease (from the NHANES),’ The American Journal of Cardiology, 2022 Jun 27;S0002-9149(22)00630-0.
2. Pathak J, Yan Y, Zhang Q, Wang L, Ge L, ‘The role of oral microbiome in respiratory health and diseases,’ Respiratory Medicine, Aug-Sep 2021;185:106475. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2021.106475. Epub 2021 May 20.