Gum health is essential to your overall wellbeing. Your gums support your teeth and form a protective barrier that prevents bacteria from getting into the underlying bone. Without proper care, you may suffer from periodontal diseases that can damage your oral health.
Poor gum health is also common in those with illnesses like cardiovascular diseases, endocarditis, dementia, diabetes, pneumonia, and pregnancy complications. Maintaining healthy gums prevents tooth loss and helps protect your general health.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is an infection of the gums caused by an accumulation of plaque and bacteria. Although poor oral hygiene contributes to the condition, other factors that put you at risk include medication, illnesses like cancer and diabetes, and smoking. Hormonal changes during pregnancy and a family history of dental problems also predispose you to gum disease.
Gum disease symptoms include swollen, red, or tender gums and bleeding when brushing. Bad breath, gum abscesses, and receding gums also result from gum disease. The condition has three main stages; Gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis. Always seek professional help upon the first signs of gum disease to prevent further complications.
- Gingivitis: It is the earliest stage of gum disease. The gums suffer inflammation, leading to redness, swelling, and bleeding when brushing or eating. Gingivitis is the easiest to treat as it doesn’t affect the connective tissues and bones that support teeth.
- Periodontitis: As the disease progresses, pockets form between the gum line, trapping more food and plaque. The gums also pull away and separate from teeth. Timely treatment can prevent the disease from advancing.
- Advanced Periodontitis: During the final stage, gum abscess, painful chewing, and bad breath are common. The infection can damage the connective fibers and bones supporting teeth, causing them to loosen. Advanced periodontitis requires aggressive treatment, which may include periodontal surgery.
Ways to Maintain Healthy Gums
You can prevent gum disease by being proactive about your gum health. Besides practicing proper oral hygiene, you also need to protect your overall health. Below are diet and lifestyle tips for maintaining healthy gums.
- Dairy Products: Dairy products like milk and yogurt contain calcium which promotes strong teeth and healthy gums. Cheese encourages saliva flow and balances your mouth’s PH, therefore eliminating harmful acids.
- Celery, Carrots, and Apples: Celery, carrots, and apples are fibrous foods that help clean your teeth when you chew and stimulate saliva flow. They also contain vitamins and antioxidants that fight infections and strengthen your teeth.
- Onions: Onions have microbial and antibacterial properties that fight harmful bacteria. Eating onions boosts your gum health by killing the bacteria responsible for gum disease.
- Lots of Water: Drinking water washes away food residue, acid remains, and sugars that encourage plaque and bacteria build-up. It also balances your mouth’s PH and hydrates your gums.
- Limit Sugar: Sugar acts as fuel for producing the harmful oral bacteria that contribute to gum disease. By limiting your sugar intake, you discourage the growth of disease-causing bacteria.
- Avoid Smoking: Smoking accelerates the progression of gum disease and prevents infected gums from healing. To keep your gums healthy, avoid smoking tobacco or consider quitting if you already smoke.
- Manage Chronic Diseases: Chronic diseases like diabetes, HIV, and cancer increase your risk of periodontal diseases. Taking your medication and sticking to your treatment plan can help keep your gums healthy.
Gum Disease Treatments
The best way to handle gum disease is through preventive care. Go for regular dental visits, brush and floss your teeth daily, and change your toothbrush every three months. Electric toothbrushes can be more effective at removing plaque and bacteria than manual toothbrushes.
The right gum disease treatment depends on its severity. Common treatments include:
Dental Cleanings: Professional dental cleanings remove tartar and plaque below and above your gum line. Your dentist may recommend frequent cleanings if you show signs of gum disease. Dental cleanings are ideal for mild forms of gum disease.
Scaling and Root Planing: This is a deep cleaning treatment using special tools to remove tartar and plaque from above and below your gum line (scaling) and to smooth the surface of the roots (planing). Scaling and root planing eliminates bacteria, reduces pockets, and promotes healing.
Surgical Procedures: Surgical intervention is necessary for advanced periodontitis. They include flap surgery, bone and tissue grafts, and guided tissue regeneration. These treatments provide proactive remedies to stop the progression of gum disease.
Individualized treatment for gum disease is necessary as symptoms vary dramatically. For personalized care to encourage healing and reduce symptoms, always seek professional help as soon as possible.
Healthy Gums Provide Lifetime Benefits
Taking care of your gums is essential for your overall well-being. With proper hygiene and a healthy lifestyle, you can avoid gum disease and enjoy the benefits of a healthy smile that promotes vitality and confidence.