Your gums are the foundation for healthy teeth and a beautiful, bright smile. Most people don’t realise just how important they are. Your gums affect your overall oral health and can impact the rest of your body if they’re not taken good care of. This is the Next Smile™ guide to keeping your gums healthy!
Periodontal or gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss. 8.52 per cent of adults aged 20 to 64 have periodontal disease. The disease is often painless and many affected adults aren’t even aware that they have it.
What is Periodontal (Gum) Disease?
Gum disease is an infection of the tissue that holds your teeth in place. It’s often caused by poor oral care which allows bacteria to flourish. This can lead to a buildup of plaque. Brushing and flossing your teeth gets rid of bacteria and any build-up. If plaque is not removed, it may harden and turn into “tartar”, which can only be removed by a dentist.
Gum disease can lead to sore and bleeding gums, problems with chewing and biting and tooth decay and loss. Periodontics can also cause bone loss and deterioration, which lowers the chance for successful implementation of dental implants.
The Effects of Gum Disease on Your Health
- Heart health. Gum disease has been proven to increase inflammation levels in the entire body. This inflammation can trigger strokes and heart disease.
- Lung health. Periodontal disease may increase the risk of respiratory infections such as pneumonia. Research suggests that this may be caused by bacteria being inhaled.
- Dental health. There is a direct link between your gums and tooth health. If left untreated, your jawbone can be damaged, causing your teeth to become loose and fall out. In this case, dental implants are often the last resort.
- Mental health. If you allow your oral health to decline and your gum disease progresses to the point of tooth loss, your self-confidence and esteem may decrease, putting you at risk of social anxiety, isolation and depression.
- Nutrition. Losing teeth from gum disease can make it impossible to eat healthy foods such as crisp fruits and vegetables. Eating hard or crunchy foods like nuts, tough meat and chewy bread, may no longer be an option for you. Poor nutrition can, in turn, cause fatigue, dizziness and other issues.
The Signs of Gum Disease
Gum disease can be hard to spot, as it is often pain-free. Be aware of the following warning signs:
- Bleeding gums
- Swollen or red gums
- Gums pulling away from teeth
- Loose teeth
- Constant bad breath
There are a number of risk factors for gum disease. Older adults and smokers are more likely to have periodontal disease. Other risk factors include:
- Hormonal changes in females
- Medications that decrease the production of saliva
- Certain illnesses
- Genetic susceptibility
- Chewing tobacco
Preventing Periodontal Disease And Maintain Healthy Gums
At the Next Smile™ All-on-4® Centre, we take dental health very seriously. Since gum disease can have grave consequences for anyone affected, we urge you to take the following simple steps to improve your gum health. It only takes a few minutes each day but can prevent the loss of bone and tooth decay.
1.Brush and Floss
Brush your teeth properly. Brush your gums, teeth and tongue for two minutes, twice daily or after every meal. Brush on a 45-degree angle to ensure contact is being made with all surfaces. Use the tip of your brush to get behind the teeth. Cover all surfaces of every tooth - not just the ones on display. Make sure you brush your teeth all the way to the gum, and over the gum edge.
Don’t forget to floss. Floss at least once a day. Your toothbrush can’t reach the surfaces and gaps between each of your teeth and food may have gotten stuck. Replace old toothbrushes every two to three months. Ensure you are storing your toothbrush in a dry area, away from other objects that are potentially harbouring bacteria.
2.See your dentist at first signs of gum disease
See your dentist at any sign of gum disease. Swollen or bleeding gums and receding gums are clear signs of periodontal disease. Widening spaces between your teeth are also a good indicator that it is about time for you to see your dentist. Gum disease can be treated with deep cleaning, medication, antibiotics and in some cases if a deeper fix is required, even surgery.
See your dentist for checkups every 6 months. We highly recommend having regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings. This will not only help to prevent gum disease but allows your dentist to spot any signs of gum disease early and control the infection before it becomes a big problem.
3.Eat a healthy diet
Limit the intake of sugar and acidic foods and drinks. Consuming sugar and acidic foods and drinks promote the growth of bacteria in your mouth and therefore increase your risk of gum disease. Instead, eat a healthy and well-balanced diet, high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and fatty fish. Research suggests that diets high in omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of periodontal disease. Fish, seafood and fish oils are the richest sources of omega-3.
Eat calcium-rich foods. Calcium and vitamin D play a vital role in the maintenance of healthy teeth and gums. Studies indicate that a low intake of calcium is a risk factor for periodontal disease. Adding calcium-rich foods, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, to your diet, may help to prevent gum disease.
4.Quit Drinking and Smoking
Don't smoke. Smokers are almost three times as likely to suffer from gum disease. Smoking weakens your immune system, making it harder to fight off a gum infection. It also slows down the dental implant healing process and increases the risk of treatment failure.
Drink less. Alcohol is acidic and dries out the mouth. This can have a terrible effect on your oral health. Your saliva keeps teeth moist, which helps to remove plaque and bacteria. Just one drink a day can negatively impact your oral health.
Where to get help
If there is only one thing you’ll take away from this article, let it be how important it is to look after your oral health to prevent and treat gum disease. The Next Smile™ All-on-4® Centre is here to help you rediscover your brightest smile. If you have any further questions about gum disease and related bone or tooth loss, get in touch with us!