8 Things Your Dentist Wishes You Knew About Your Gum Health
When you think about your oral health, what comes to mind? Most likely, you think about your teeth. While caring for them is crucial, teeth are only half the story. Gum health is essential to dental care and contributes to your body’s overall health.
Understanding your gum tissue, making lifestyle changes, and incorporating a few habits into your daily routine can help you maintain optimal gum health.
The Importance of Maintaining Healthy Gums
Ignoring the pink tissue surrounding your teeth will eventually cause bacteria to accumulate, leading to gum disease. Although some symptoms of gum disease are subtle, others can be uncomfortable and painful. These symptoms might include:
- Bleeding gums.
- Receding gums.
- Red, inflamed tissues.
- Pain when chewing.
- Constant dull pain.
- Bad breath that doesn’t go away after brushing.
- Loose teeth.
- Tooth and bone loss.
- Increased risk of heart disease.
Gum disease has been linked to several systemic diseases, such as diabetes, pneumonia, some cancers, and Alzheimer’s disease.
What You Need to Know About Gum Health
Unfortunately, gums are often overlooked since most people focus on their teeth. If you want to maintain your oral health, you should know how to care for your gums—and why it’s important. Here are 8 things you need to know.
1. Healthy gums keep your teeth in place.
Your teeth can be in the best condition, but if your gums aren’t healthy, your teeth will not have enough support. Gum tissue protects the sensitive roots at the bottom of your teeth.
When bacteria sit on the teeth and gums, pockets begin forming. These pockets provide more hiding places for plaque and continually erode gum tissue. Your teeth roots become exposed, and your risk of developing cavities increases.
2. Use correct flossing techniques.
Incorporate flossing into your oral hygiene routine at least once a day. Flossing helps remove food particles between your teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach. Regular flossing also reduces plaque buildup along the gumline, preventing gingivitis and advanced stages of gum disease.
Using the correct flossing technique is important, too. Did you know that there is a right and a wrong way to floss? Wrap approximately 18 inches of dental floss around your middle fingers. Guide the floss between your teeth in a C-shape, and scrape the floss against each surface. Repeat on each tooth and discard the floss when you’re done.
3. Your gums shouldn’t bleed when you floss.
If you aren’t flossing regularly, you may notice small amounts of blood near your gums when you do. This is not normal. Irregular flossing can lead to receding gums, excessive plaque, and gum disease. Flossing once daily will help keep your gums healthy.
4. Brushing too hard or too frequently isn’t good.
It seems logical that the more you brush your teeth, the healthier they will be. However, this is incorrect. Brushing too often can irritate your gum tissue and cause it to recede. Instead, the best course of action for your gums is to brush once every morning and evening for two minutes.
5. Your mouth is home to hundreds of bacteria.
Approximately 700 species of bacteria live in your mouth! Good bacteria help prevent bad bacteria from forming colonies in your mouth. Bad bacteria thrive on sugary food and drinks and leave behind sticky plaque. They also turn sugar into acid, which causes decay in your teeth.
When these bacteria are unbalanced, they can accumulate under the gumline and lead to gum disease. You can manage the bacteria in your mouth with a well-balanced diet and regular brushing and flossing.
6. Unhealthy gums may be contagious.
Did you know that you can spread bacteria from gum disease to another person? These tiny pathogens get passed through saliva, so be mindful of doing the following:
- Sharing eating utensils without washing them.
- Sharing a toothbrush.
- Drinking from the same container.
- Sharing food with someone else.
Thoroughly wash all shared kitchen utensils if a member of your family is showing symptoms of gum disease.
7. You may not realize you have gum disease.
Many people with gum disease are unaware of the condition because there are often few signs and symptoms of its development. It does not become painful until it’s in its later stages.
Routine dental visits are crucial to keeping your oral health in check. If the disease is left untreated, it could progress until it becomes more visible, and it could be too late to repair the damage.
8. Gum disease may be hereditary.
If your family members have gum disease, you are at an increased risk of developing it too. However, that doesn’t mean your gums are doomed. Forming good oral hygiene habits, visiting your dentist regularly, and avoiding tobacco use can keep this disease at bay.
Keep your gums healthy at Oxley Comprehensive Dentistry
Oxley Comprehensive Dentistry can help you achieve optimal gum health. Call us today to schedule your appointment at our New Bern family practice.