When thinking about our own oral health, we often forget about everything but our teeth. The truth is, however, that teeth are only a fraction of our oral health. Factors such as our mouth’s microbiome, and the gum tissue that protects our teeth, can actually be more important to having an overall happy mouth.
What Role Do Our Gums Play?
The gums, or gingivae, are soft tissue that lines the mouth in order to protect teeth and resist infection. Like a case for a phone, the gums protect the most sensitive parts of the tooth from exposure to food and natural bacterial found in the mouth. Gums that become unhealthy will pull away from the teeth in a process known as gum recession. Not only does this make the bone vulnerable, it removes the structural support teeth need to function properly, causing them to become loose, and, if given enough time, they will eventually fall out.
Periodontitis (Gum Disease)
When you neglect your gums, it’s not just your teeth that suffer. Periodontitis or gum disease, is a bacterial infection that starts in your mouth as a buildup of plaque, but can progress into into inflamed gums and can eventually put your entire body at risk. Research shows that advanced gum disease is linked to several serious disorders such as, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Do I Have Gum Disease?
Depending on your age, chances are you have had gum disease in the past or currently have it. Research shows that nearly 50% of Americans suffer from some form of gum disease, from mild to severe. For people age 65 and over, that increases to over 70%! The hallmarks of early gum disease are sensitive gums that bleed easily when you’re flossing or brushing, and gums that appear especially red or inflamed. Bad breath can also be an early symptom.
How Do I Protect My Gums?
The best way to protect your gums is, in fact, the best way to protect your teeth: consistent oral care habits. The American Dental Association suggests your brush your teeth twice a day while also flossing before bed. Doing these both correctly is also important. To brush well, brush in gentle circles at a forty-five degree angle toward the gumline for about two to three minutes. Make sure you’re using toothpaste with fluoride, and be careful not to brush too hard or your could damage your enamel and your gums. After gum disease, aggressive toothbrushing is the leading cause of receding gums.
While brushing and flossing is important, plaque will eventually build up on your teeth, which is why getting a regular cleaning every six months is important. Plaque begins as a soft substance easy to brush away, but will harden within 24-48 hours. At this stage, only a dentist will be able to remove it.
And if any problems already exists, like gum disease, your dentist will be able to recommend a treatment plan before anything can progress any further.
If you are suffering from gum disease, we can help treat it to improve your oral and overall health. Please call 940-322-2252 today for an appointment with a Wichita Falls dentist at StarImage Dentistry.