While your teeth seem like the “stars” of your smile, if your gums are in poor health they can weaken your teeth and their stability. The new year is the perfect time to take stock of your oral health, especially your gums.
The easiest way to monitor your gum health is to have checkups to remove plaque build-up beneath and along the gum line (plaque is the sticky coating filled with bacteria that cling to teeth and gums.) This bacterial invasion leads to infections that damage oral tissues and bone, leading to gum disease and tooth decay.
Stages of Gum Disease
Gum disease is tricky since it’s often painless in the early stages. You might not be aware you have a deteriorating condition going on in your mouth. Yet, like most things health-related, the sooner you detect problems, the easier, least invasive and least costly they can be treated. In fact, when it comes to early gum disease (gingivitis), it can actually be reversed! That’s because at this stage the bone and tissue keeping your teeth in place aren’t affected yet.
Stage 1 – Gingivitis: Your gums start to become tender, red, swollen, inflamed and bleed when you brush and floss.
Stage 2 – Periodontitis: Gum disease advances and starts to harm the bones and tissues keeping your teeth in their place. Pockets begin to form below your gum line, harboring food and plaque that destroys gum tissue.
Stage 3 – Advanced Periodontitis: At this point, the bones and fibers holding your teeth in position are destroyed. This can change your bite pattern and loosen your teeth so that they need to be extracted. And if the teeth aren’t replaced, the remainder of your teeth can shift out of position into the resulting gaps, altering your alignment and facial structure.
Achieve Optimal Gum Health
-Make tooth brushing (2x a day) and flossing (1x a day) an unfailing part of your daily oral hygiene routine.
-Carefully brush your teeth, gums and tongue. Your toothbrush should be soft-bristled to avoid harming soft oral tissue. If you can’t brush your teeth properly, consider upgrading to a battery-powered or electric toothbrush that lessens gingivitis and plaque better than manual brushing alone.
-Use only ADA recommended toothpaste and mouthwash. A fluoride toothpaste offers extra protection from plaque while an antibacterial mouthwash lessens plaque buildup on the gums. It also prevents and reduces gingivitis and diminishes the speed of developing tartar (check for the ADA seal of acceptance).
-Make bi-annual dental visits so that gum issues can be detected and treated as early as possible.
-Maintain a nutritious diet, limiting sugar and carb intake to give your gums the nutrients they need to resist disease.
-Quit smoking! Tobacco weakens the immune system, making it more difficult to fight off gum infection and healing.
Proactivity with your oral health supports your ongoing efforts to achieve optimal gum health! Be aware of any signs of gum disease, such as chronic bad breath with an unpleasant taste in your mouth, inflamed gums, loose teeth or gums pulling away from your teeth. The new year is the perfect time to assess your gum health.
If your gums do need help, our skilled periodontist can examine your mouth to determine what kind of treatment is needed to restore your oral health. Give our team a call to schedule a consultation, and let us help you achieve your best gum health!