While we spend our time in front of the mirror looking at our pearly whites, we should be paying just as much attention to the rest of our mouths, especially our gums. While supporting our teeth, gums also serve as a line of defense against plaque and bacteria that can attack the roots of our teeth. However, our gums can harbor bacteria, especially between the surfaces of the gums and the surfaces of your teeth. This troublesome area is difficult to clean, and it’s prone to grow nasty plaque that can lead to issues for your gums and teeth alike. So how do you care for your gums? And how can you keep those little gaps and spaces clean? Well, we’ve collected a few tips you can try out to ensure that you maintain the health and cleanliness of your gums. We’ll also go over some of the dangers of gum disease and poor oral care, so that you can better understand gum health and its importance.
Gum disease, or periodontitis, is a common disease where the gums are red, tender, swollen, and may bleed. Over time, periodontitis can lead to tooth loss, as well as more serious problems, such as jawbone damage, and even heart disease or type II diabetes. It’s important to remain aware of the health of your gums to ensure that you don’t have a problem, or so you may reverse any issue that you may already have. Know the signs of gum disease: redness, tenderness, swelling, bleeding, tooth decay, and tooth sensitivity. If you notice any of these signs, you may have gingivitis or periodontitis, and you should seek help from a dentist or periodontist (who specializes in gum treatments).
Tips for Better Gum Health
Things to Avoid
To kick things off, we’ve noted a few things that you can try to avoid to ensure that your gums don’t endure unnecessary damage. Here’s a brief list of damaging habits and consumables:
- Poor diet
- Sugary food and drink
A Quick Note About Other Factors
On top of those bad habits, you may be more or less prone to gum disease, depending on a variety of factors. Those who have diabetes, women who are pregnant, those with other diseases, and the elderly may be more prone to contract gum disease. Speak with your doctor if you believe these factors may be causing gum damage.
Consider a regimen of oral probiotics to help keep your mouth and gums healthy. Probiotic bacteria can help to fend off harmful bacteria that can create plaque, which means that the microflora (or bacterial habitat) will remain healthy and balanced. The following oral probiotics may improve your gum health — ask your dentist for further details and guidelines.
- S. salivarius K12
- S. salivarius M18
- Lactobacillus reuteri
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
- Lactobacilli reuteri
- Lactobacilli brevis
Saliva Is Your Friend
Your salivary glands help to keep your mouth clean, including your gum line. As saliva swishes over your gums and between teeth, it sweeps away food particles and bad bacteria. Saliva also has a enzymes and compounds that break up food, even before it reaches the stomach. Beyond that, your saliva contains a flurry of proteins and tooth-fortifying minerals, which also aid gum health and growth.
As such, it’s important to keep saliva production high. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially if you feel dehydrated. When dehydrated, you’ll produce less saliva, which means that your roof may turn into a safe haven for bacteria growth.
Alongside all of the aforementioned habits, you should regularly brush and floss your teeth, and you may want to include a mouthwash into your regimen. Brush your teeth at least twice per day (once in the morning and once at night) or after meals (wait 30 minutes or so after a meal to ensure that your enamel isn’t weakened while brushing — waiting will give you time to produce saliva to balance the acids in your mouth, while protecting your enamel). You should also floss regularly to help remove food debris that can lead to plaque buildup. Floss after meals and snacks to get rid of debris. Just be sure not to push too hard into your gums, since this can cause them to recede. Use mouthwash as your dentist recommends in order to neutralize harmful bacteria. You can also consume oral probiotics after using mouthwash to reintroduce beneficial microflora back to your oral cavity.
Get a Cleaning Every Six Months
Dental checkups are important. You dentist will examine the health of your gums, and they’ll be able to identify whether or not you have signs of gum disease. Plus, you’ll get a deep cleaning, and your dentist will get into those nooks and crannies that too often go unchecked and uncleaned. You can also ask for advice to help you to keep your gums in tip-top shape, and you can schedule an appointment to address any additional issues that you may have which may lead to gum disease or other problems. We recommend a checkup every six months at the least, to ensure that your gums and teeth are clean and healthy.
Schedule Your Cleaning Today
As we just noted, regular cleanings are an important part of maintaining oral health, and they serve as a good time to take a look at your gums, as well as your pearly whites. If you live here in Overland Park, we’d be happy to schedule a checkup and cleaning. We’ll let you know how your gums look, and we can provide you with steps you can take to ensure that your gums are strong, healthy, and clean. Give us a call to schedule your appointment!