Your mouth is the main gateway to the rest of your body. What affects your mouth can affect everything else inside of your body. That is why doctors will tell you to stay on top of your oral health. Failure to do so may lead to the development of other health conditions, sicknesses, and disease. Your teeth might be the focal point of your mouth, but it is your gums that reflects the health of your mouth. Gum disease is a very serious condition. Gum disease can lead to further oral problems on top of health conditions in the rest of your body, such as problems with your jaw and into the bones throughout your body. You can avoid these problems by taking care of your oral health and maintaining healthy gums. To maintain healthy gums, you need to follow specific (but easy) steps to do so.
What Are Gums?
The gums are the soft tissue for which your teeth grow out of. The tissue allows the roots of your teeth to remain in place, yet it is soft enough for your adult teeth to grow out of. Because the tissue is soft, it is more susceptible to damage if you do not take care of it properly.
The gums are scientifically called the gingiva, or gingivae (plural). This is the connective tissue inside of your mouth that is covered in a mucous membrane. The gums are not just the area around your teeth though as the skin travels down into the neck and throat. This skin has little in the way of nerves though, so it has limited sensibility.
What Are the Risks to Healthy Gums?
If you do not take care of your gums you run the risk of gum disease. There are early signs of gum disease that, if not corrected, will continue to become worse and worse. These problems with your oral health will eventually lead to the deterioration of not only your teeth and your gums, but eventually, you'll suffer health problems throughout the rest of your body as well.
The first sign of gum disease and the deterioration of your gum health is gingivitis. You've probably heard this word tossed around during toothpaste and toothbrush commercials. Gingivitis is an early stage of gum health. You will initially experience inflamed gums that appear redder than normal. The gums feel tender, are swollen (or look puffy) and are more prone to bleeding. Gingivitis can be reversed, so as long as you improve upon your oral health, you will eventually turn the health of your mouth around and correct the problems with your gum health.
If you fail to correct the development of gingivitis, you will eventually begin to suffer from what is known as periodontitis. This is when the gum disease doesn't just affect your gums but your teeth as well. It will also completely ruin your gums. As your teeth rot, your gums break down as well. Once this starts to happen there isn't anything you can do to correct it. You can stop the deterioration process by improving your oral health, but the break down of your gums and teeth is not something you can turn around.
For example, if the skin on your hand cracks, you can take better care, use moisturizer and, eventually, your skin will heal, and your hand will be like new. However, if you fail to take care of your hand and you suffer from frostbite. You might lose a finger. It doesn't matter how much better you begin taking care of your hand; nothing will bring the finger back. The same is true of your dental health. There is a level of deterioration you just can't correct.
A sign you are currently suffering from periodontitis is you consistently have bad breath and a bad taste in your mouth (even after brushing your teeth). You might notice a separation between current teeth, or you might even see permanent teeth fall out. Your gums will easily bleed when you have periodontitis, and your gums will always look red, tender and feel swollen. As you inspect your teeth, you'll also notice the gums have started to pull down and away from the teeth. When this happens, the exposed area of the teeth will probably feel tender and even painful to the touch.
If you believe you have periodontitis or any level of gum disease, it is critical to see your dentist. This way, they can identify what is going on and give you the best course of action for how to correct the gum disease. The sooner you take care of the situation the better off you're going to be (and the faster you'll correct the problem at hand).
Keeping Your Gums Healthy
To maintain healthy gums you don't need to go out of your way. Most of the steps are straightforward and easy to do. Chances are you already do most (if not all) of the steps already; you just are not doing it often enough.
Brush Your Teeth
First, you need to brush your teeth at least twice a day. Now, you likely are already doing this. However, there's a good chance you're not brushing your teeth long enough. You need to be brushing your teeth for around two minutes each time. It is important to spend enough time on each side to ensure your mouth receives a proper cleaning. Additionally, when brushing your teeth, you need to brush your tongue and cover your gums.
When you brush, you should use a soft-bristle brush. Using a hard bristle brush increases the aggravation your gums suffer through, which may increase the chance of breaking down. Also, do not brush up and down. If you brush straight up and down, you will push bacteria down into the gums, which may lead to gum disease. To maintain healthy gums, you'll want to brush in a circular motion as this helps avoid pushing food into the gums and reduces the possibility of sticking food in between teeth.
You need to floss at least once a day, but it's better if you floss twice a day. Flossing routinely will reduce the chance of you bleeding when you floss. Now, some people have more sensitive gums, so seeing some blood is not an instant sign you have a form of gum disease. However, you need to monitor the situation and look out for other possible problems. If your gums bleed and you experience some other problems associated with gum disease, there's a good chance you have less than healthy gums.
Go to see your dentist at least once every six months. At the very least you can have your teeth cleaned during the times you go in. Additionally, you'll catch any possible problems before the issues turn into more serious issues by going in once every six months. If you have a cavity, your dentist will spot this early on. Your dentist can also provide you with information on how to reverse any kind of gum disease you are showing signs of. With appropriate dental cleanings, you'll maintain healthy gums.
Some of the best ways you can maintain healthy gums and reduce the chance of gum disease is making slight alterations to your own personal health. For starters, you need to quit smoking. Smoking is by far one of the worst activities you can do for your health. Beyond what smoking does to your lungs and other areas of your body it is terrible for your gums. Smoking also weakens your body's immune system, which increases the chance of suffering some sort of infection inside of your gums.
You'll also want to cut out sugar if you consume a large amount of sugar during the day. This isn't just sugar found in foods but sugar found in beverages. By making these slight dietary and personal health adjustments, you'll avoid many of the biggest gum disease culprits.
Look for ADA approved mouthwash. Mouthwash is a valuable addition to your oral care lineup. Beyond brushing and flossing, mouthwash can work inside the cracks the rest of your oral equipment cannot work into. Mouthwash can also help remove the remaining bacteria inside of your mouth that may lead to the development of gum disease.
It doesn't take much in order to improve your oral health. In fact, if you just brush your teeth twice a day, floss at least once a day and use mouthwash when you brush you'll already be ahead of the curve. Add in an improvement to your personal health, and you'll instantly begin to see a difference inside of your mouth. Healthy gums are critical as they represent the rest of your body's overall health.
Unhealthy gums can lead to problems with the rest of your body as infections may work through the damaged gums and into your bloodstream. Due to this, gum disease may cause disease in any other area of your body. So do what you can to maintain healthy gums.