When it comes to your oral health, it’s not all about having a bright, white smile. While we are all reminded to brush our teeth twice a day, did you know that brushing your gums is just as important as brushing your teeth? We are the bayside dentists Cheltenham locals trust for expert dental care. Even if you’re cavity-free and have a full set of pearly whites, that doesn’t mean you’re immune to gum disease. Let’s take a look at why it’s so important to take care of your gums and simple things you can do on a regular basis to ensure optimum gum health.
Gum Disease Can Affect Your Overall Health and Wellbeing
When gums are inflamed, bacteria in your mouth can find its way into the blood stream easily making your body more susceptible to infections. Research has even discovered links between gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Gum disease has also been linked to cardiovascular problems like heart disease and stroke. While experts aren’t sure exactly why this is, what’s certain, however, is that heart attack and stroke patients tend to also have gum disease.
What Is Gum Disease?
Most people experience the symptoms of gum disease at some time in their lives. Gum disease starts when plaque builds up under and along the gum line. Plaque is a sticky film-like substance, filled with bacteria that can cause infections which lead to gum disease and tooth decay. Gingivitis is the earliest stage, and if left untreated you can develop periodontitis, an advanced form of gum disease impacting the bones that hold your teeth in place. The final stage is advanced periodontitis. This is when the fibres and bone supporting your teeth are destroyed. It can impact your bite, and teeth may need to be removed. Healthy gums are pink and firm, and they don’t bleed. Diseased gums may be red, swollen, tender or bleeding, and you may have bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth, it may be painful to chew.
How to Prevent Gum Disease
It is estimated that only 1 in 4 adults over the age of 35 have healthy gums. The good news is gum disease is preventable. Here are a few simple, effective steps you can take to keep your gums healthy.
- Brushing and flossing – when you brush your teeth, don’t forget to brush your gums as well using a gentle, circular motion, and floss between your teeth once a day. Flossing helps remove the plaque and food that’s beyond your toothbrush’s reach. Be careful not to brush too hard or use a hard-bristled toothbrush on your gums as this can make your gums recede.
- Using an antibacterial mouthwash – this can help reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth, reducing the chance of gingivitis and possibly keeping you healthier overall.
- Regular dental check-ups – visit your dentist for a check-up every six months. This will allow early signs of gum disease to be identified and treated. Treating gum disease in its early stages prevents it from spreading and causing severe and permanent damage to your teeth. If you have gingivitis regular cleanings by a dental professional can help reverse it.
- Eat a healthy diet – fruits, vegetables and vegetable oils, nuts and legumes are good for healthy gums and a recent study suggests that a diet high in the omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish may reduce your risk of gum disease. Try to limit high sugar foods and foods high in refined carbohydrates such as white bread and potato chips.
- Quit smoking – smoking is strongly associated with the onset of gum disease. Since smoking weakens your immune system, it also makes it harder to fight off a gum infection and it also makes it more difficult for your gums to heal once they’ve been damaged.
Looking after your oral health means caring for your gums as well as your teeth. When your gums are healthy, you reduce your risk of developing bad breath, dental decay and a whole range of chronic diseases. If you didn’t already have enough reasons to take good care of your gums, the relationship between your oral health and your overall health provides even more. For more advice or to book an appointment to discuss the health of your teeth and gums, contact Dr Tony Heilberg Dentist Cheltenham today on (03) 9583 2233.