Oral and dental health doesn’t begin and end with your teeth. Your gums are very important, not only to the development of your teeth, but to your overall health. Your teeth may be in great shape, and you may not feel any obvious symptoms, but the fact of the matter is that most people don’t realize when they have trouble with their gums – at least, in the beginning.
Trouble with your gums begins when plaque begins to build up under the gum line. Plaque is sticky, and full of bacteria. If left unchecked, an infection in the gums can spread to the bone, and result in gum disease, tooth decay, and more.
Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease. At this stage, only the gums are affected, and any damage that has occurred can be reversed with treatment and proper hygiene. You will notice that your gums are:
• Red, tender, and swollen,
• Bleed easily when brushing or flossing,
Periodontitis is the next stage of gum disease. Now, the bones are also affected, and if it is not treated, it can cause permanent damage to gums, bones, and other tissues. You will notice:
• A persistent bad taste in your mouth, and bad breath,
• Loosened teeth,
• Gums that bleed easily,
• Gums that are red, swollen, and tender,
• Gums that are pulling away from your teeth.
Prevention is the Best Cure
Luckily, there are easy steps you can take to prevent gum disease from ever starting.
1. Brush twice a day, for at least two minutes each time. Your toothbrush helps to clean your mouth, removing food and plaque from your teeth and gums. Remember to brush your tongue, which can also be home to bacteria. Use a brush with soft bristles, and guide the brush in small circles on both the teeth and gums.
2. Floss once a day. If you have any crooked or irregular teeth, in particular, flossing will help keep the area between teeth clean, and avoid plaque build up and irritation. Shape the floss into a “C” that you pull gently along the tooth from the gum line to remove debris. Morning or evening – the timing doesn’t matter, just as long as you floss.
3. Get your teeth professionally cleaned. Even if you are diligent, you can still miss plaque, which then becomes hard and turns into tartar, which irritates the gums. A good cleaning by a professional hygienist is the only way to safely remove tartar. Visit your dentist every six to eight months.
4. Eat for your gums. That means avoiding sugary processed foods and drinks, which help promote bacteria growth and tooth decay. Many snacks, such as chips and crackers, can also stick to your teeth. What’s best for your gums? First, water is your friend. When you snack, rinse your mouth out with water quickly to avoid food build up. Staying properly hydrated also helps to balance the levels of bacteria in the mouth. Foods high in vitamin C are also very beneficial to your gums.
5. Use a good mouthwash. The ADA (American Dental Association) recognizes several therapeutic mouthwashes that are generally available over the counter. A therapeutic or antibacterial rinse can help you clean areas of the mouth that a toothbrush doesn’t reach, and help reduce plaque and prevent gingivitis. Use it two or three times a week.
6. If you smoke, here’s another good reason to quit. You may not realize it, but there is a strong correlation between smoking and gum disease. Smoking weakens the immune system, making it harder for your body to fight off infection, and also to recover from a bout of gingivitis. Smoking and drinking together seems to multiply the risk.
If you need advice on your gums or any aspect of dental health or dental hygiene, your dentist is the right person to ask. You’ll find the answer at Dr. Robert Axelrad’s Dental Office in Brampton, ON.
If you’re looking for a well-regarded and highly skilled dentist in the Brampton area, make an appointment with Dr. Robert Axelrad by calling (905)-791-3867. Visit our website to learn more about our dental services.