Proper Gum Care for a Healthy Mouth and Smile

Did you know that you have billions of bacteria living comfortably in your mouth? We all do and if those bacteria take hold in our gums it can cause a lot of unpleasant oral issues including periodontal disease, which is painful inflammation of the gums and potential destruction of a tooth’s supporting tissue as well as surrounding bones. Related gum disease infection can also spike blood sugar and lead to diabetes. It’s serious business and something to be avoided.

While most of us know that practicing sound oral hygiene is the best way to avoid such problems, the majority of people typically overlook their gums as a critical component of oral health. In fact, much emphasis is put on getting a bright white smile, but you can’t have healthy white teeth without healthy gums.

Indeed, the very foundation of healthy teeth, overall oral health, and a bright smile is diligent care that includes consistent attention to your gums. Pearly whites need supporting vibrant reds!

What is gum disease?

Gum disease begins when plaque steadily builds up along the contour of the gum line and under it as well. Plaque is a sticky film filled with bacteria and can cause infections, tender gums, and bleeding gums. These issues are collectively known as gingivitis but a silver lining is that it doesn’t impact the bone and tissue holding your teeth in place, and the damage is reversible.

Stomatitis (or thrush) is another gum disease condition in the form of a fungus that typically leads to infections or red and sore gums.

Periodontitis is the most advanced form of gum disease and directly impacts the bones holding your teeth in place. Without treatment, periodontitis can destroy bones, gums, and tissue surrounding the teeth.  

How to identify gum disease

While gum disease is a silent foe and you likely won’t know you have it until it’s there, some common signs to be aware of include:

  • Bad taste in the mouth or bad breath
  • Permanent teeth that are separating or loose
  • Bleeding gums
  • Swollen, red, or tender gums
  • Gums that are pulling away from your teeth

Tips for proper gum care

To get and hold on to a beaming smile, it just takes a dedicated oral care regime that is easy to do and the rewards last a lifetime.

  • Floss at least once a day to remove plaque and food stuck beyond the reach of a toothbrush.
  • A soft-bristled brush is the most important tool in your medicine cabinet for sound oral care. Use it for your teeth, inside of cheeks, gums, and tongue.
  • Shelves at your go-to store are filled with all types of toothpaste brands that promise to whiten teeth and prevent gingivitis and freshen your breath. Whichever one you choose, be sure it includes fluoride and the ADA’s seal of acceptance.
  • We know that eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet is part of the formula to keep your entire body healthy, and a smart diet also plays a big part in effective gum care and getting a bright smile.
  • Unsure how to thoroughly clean your gums? Mix up lukewarm salt water and give your mouth a good rinse. Mouthwash rinsing is also an excellent routine. Regular rinsing helps dislodge food particles and other debris, and therapeutic mouthwash goes a step further in reducing plaque, preventing or slowing gingivitis, and keeping tartar at bay.  
  • Don’t smoke. Don’t start, and quit if you’re already doing it. Lung cancer is obviously a very bad thing and smoking also ramps up the chances of gum disease and growth of infectious yeast.
  • Brush no less than twice a day. Brushing, or at least rinsing with mouthwash, after every meal is also an excellent way to remove food plaque before it causes damage. While you’re brushing, don’t forget to scrub your tongue, a favorite place for bacteria. Electric and battery-operated toothbrushes are invaluable for this task and are widely available.
  • Visit your dentist at least every six months for routine checkups and to discuss any concerning problems with irritation or infection in the gums.

Today’s takeaway: Always brush twice a day (or more) with a soft-bristled brush, floss every day, and maintain twice a year dental checkups. Your gums and smile will thank you.

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