Did you know that over 60 million Americans struggle with gum disease annually? September is National Gum Care Month! Good oral health care is important every month of the year, but during September we focus on educating patients about the importance of your gum’s health and preventing gum disease.
Why is Gum Care Important?
When imagining dental health, teeth seem to be the primary focus– but your gums are equally important! Gums protect your teeth by securing the roots of your teeth which allows your teeth to function optimally. Improper gum care can damage your teeth and put you at risk of developing gum disease. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is the infection and irritation of gums and soft tissues that surround and support your teeth. It is classified into two stages: gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and is often painless and occurs when plaque is not removed consistently from your teeth. Fortunately, this stage can be revisable with proper dental cleanings and better oral hygiene habits.
Periodontitis is the advanced stage of gum disease and occurs when toxins from the bacterial plaque begin to spread not only into the gums but bones and ligaments that support your teeth. Over time it can lead to the loss of tissue and bone, causing your teeth to loosen and begin shifting. This stage of gum disease is not reversible and can only be managed through professional dental treatment which may involve surgery if severe.
Signs of Gum Disease
- Bad breath or taste in the mouth
- Changes in how your upper and lower teeth fit together
- Gaps or pockets along your gum line near your teeth
- Gums that bleed easily
- Gums that have recessed or pulled away from teeth, exposing roots
- Permanent teeth that begin to separate or become loose
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
See your dentist if you suspect you may be developing gum disease. The sooner you are
diagnosed and begin treatment, the higher your chance of successful treatment and recovery.
Lower Your Risk
Follow these dental recommendations to lower your risk of developing gum disease:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes. Remember to brush at an angle on every surface of your teeth as well as along and around your gum line.
- Replace your toothbrush every 3 months or once the bristles become worn
- Floss once a day to remove bacteria, plaque, and food debris that your toothbrush can’t reach
- Rinse with an antimicrobial mouthwash to remove unwanted bacteria
- Schedule and attend routine dental exams and cleanings to monitor your oral health
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Drink plenty of water daily
If you have an underlying medical condition such as diabetes, speak with your dentist about how your condition can be affected by your oral health and ways to lower your risk of gum disease.
For more information on caring for your gums and how we can help or to schedule an appointment, contact Merrily Sandford, DDS & Associates today.