When it comes to oral health, we tend to focus on our teeth. Many patients overlook their gums, while focusing solely on the appearance and health of their smile. However, no one is immune to gum disease. Understanding the importance of taking care of your gums each time you brush and floss can help keep your entire smile bright and healthy. Our family dentistry team in Knoxville, TN, encourages routine and preventive dental care to help patients achieve their best smile, gums and all.
When we are less than diligent with our dental care and cleaning, plaque begins to build up on and under the gum line. This sticky film-like substance is filled with bacteria. During early stage gingivitis, the bacteria in plaque can cause an infection in the gums.
Your gums will become:
- Bright red
- Prone to bleeding
- Oozing pus
When treated early, the effects of gingivitis can be reversed. However, if left alone the disease will progress to periodontitis, which affects not only the gums but also the bone holding the teeth in place. As the disease advances, the fibers and bones supporting the teeth are soon destroyed. Your bite will become misaligned, and loose teeth may need to be removed.
You may also notice:
- Gums that have receded away from the teeth
- Gums that easily bleed
- Consistent bad breath or bad taste in your mouth
Gums are essential not just to your dental health, but they play a key role in your overall health as well. Patients with gum disease have a higher chance of heart attack or stroke because the bacteria in the mouth may enter the bloodstream. Healthy gums can also minimize or prevent diabetes.
How to Take Care of Your Gums
You can reduce the risk for gum disease by taking just a few steps. Here are ways to keep your gums healthy and happy:
- Floss –Flossing at least once per day will remove plaque and food that a toothbrush cannot reach. When you floss teeth, the dental floss should reach all the way to the gumline. This is the area where plaque can hide, and infections can quickly form.
- Learn proper brushing techniques – How you brush your teeth is important to your gums. A hard-bristled toothbrush or aggressive brushing will damage the gums, cause them to recede, and lead to gum disease. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush and brushing in circles around the areas where the gums and teeth meet will deter plaque buildup.
- Use an antiseptic mouthwash – After brushing and flossing, rinse your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash. This will kill most of the remaining bacteria left in your mouth.
- Reduce or avoid sugar and sweets – Sugary drinks and sweets can lead to tooth decay. Choose snacks that are low in sugar like vegetables, fruits, nuts, and low-calorie cheese.
- Stop smoking – Using any form of tobacco will increase your risk for gum disease and oral cancers.
- Replace your toothbrush – Change out your toothbrush every three to four months.
- Visit your dentist twice per year – Dental visits allow your dentist to identify and treat early stages of gum disease and remove plaque and tartar that cannot be removed at home.
Schedule your dental cleaning and check-up today with Dr. Haney by contacting our Knoxville, TN dental office online or call us at 865-693-6886.