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Posted on: September 7, 2022
Gum Care Matters in Indiana
Every September, we celebrate National Gum Care Month and get a welcome reminder of the gums’ importance on our general health and how to protect them from disease.
What is gum disease, how do you prevent it from starting and how do you stop it once it’s started? Read on to learn the answers to these and most other questions you may have about protecting your gums and keeping your smile beautiful and healthy your whole life long.
Time to visit the dentist? Call our office in Indiana today to schedule your appointment.
Gum Disease 101
When plaque buildup accumulates along the gums and beneath them, gum disease has begun. This plaque contains bacteria that infects the gums and the jawbone beneath them that keep your teeth firmly rooted in place.
Mild gum disease, known as gingivitis, produces redness, tenderness, and swelling in the gums. It also makes the gums more likely than normal to bleed, such as from brushing your teeth or eating hard foods.
Fortunately, most people can fix their gingivitis all on their own by properly brushing their teeth, gums, tongue and the roof of their mouth twice or more daily and flossing between their teeth daily. Unfortunately, however, most people who have gingivitis don’t even know it, because the symptoms are generally so mild and don’t typically involve any pain. This can leave gingivitis to fester and grow into something far less benign, known as periodontitis.
While you can fix most cases of gingivitis yourself, it’s not so with periodontitis. At this stage, you must enlist the aid of a dentist to remove all the tartar and plaque in your mouth, kill off any remaining bacteria and help heal the damage already caused.
With periodontitis, you may experience mouth pain, especially while chewing. Your bite may be different and so may your speech. Your gums and jawbone may start decaying and deteriorating, pulling back from your teeth and producing pockets where more bacteria, food debris, plaque, and tartar accumulate and rot. Left without proper treatment, this could lead to more severe and consistent soreness, swelling, redness and bleeding of the gums. It could also lead to the loosening, separating, twisting or outright losing of teeth.
How to Prevent Gum Disease
To prevent gum disease, brush your teeth at least twice each day and floss between your teeth once.
When you brush your teeth, use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a fluoride-based toothpaste to brush on all sides of the teeth, gums, and tongue. Use short strokes back and forth and little circular movements. Brush diligently but carefully; don’t scrub or use too much pressure. Give each side of each tooth and each patch of gums, tongue, and the roof of your mouth about 15 to 20 strokes with the toothbrush.
You can use an electric toothbrush to clean those hard-to-reach areas, or you can use an interdental tool after you manually brush your teeth. If you’d rather not use your toothbrush to brush your tongue, use a tongue scraper instead. Don’t ignore the tongue when you clean your mouth, however, as it’s another spot where bacteria can collect. You can also use antiseptic mouthrinse or mouthwash with antibacterial and antimicrobial ingredients that help kill off any bacteria left behind once you’re done brushing and flossing.
If it hurts to brush or floss, or they make your gums bleed, contact your dentist right away. You can also ask your dentist to recommend a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss and, even, give you a little personal tutorial on the right way to brush and/or floss.
In addition, seeing your dentist for routine dental checkups and cleanings is an essential part of preventing gum disease. During these appointments, inform your dentist of any changes in your health, such as new medical conditions or changes in a condition’s status, and changes in your medications. Call us to set up an exam and cleaning from a dentist in Indiana and start protecting yourself even better from gum disease today.
While those are the keys to preventing gum disease and keeping your mouth healthy, there are some other things you can do to help with those goals as well.
Your diet, for one, can impact your gum health. Foods heavy in sugars and carbohydrates can weaken the teeth and gums, while vegetables, hard and crunchy fruits and whole grains can help strengthen them. A healthy diet also helps keep the immune system strong, which is essential to kill bacteria, prevent infection and alleviate inflammation.
If you smoke or chew tobacco, quitting that habit can also help reduce your risk for gum disease. Studies on smoking and gum disease have found that smoking raises your gum disease risk.
How to Identify Gum Disease
While prevention is the best way to protect yourself from gum disease, knowing how to identify the signs if it does appear is perhaps the second best.
Gum disease often remains hidden in the shadows unnoticed until it develops into its more advanced and extreme stages. This makes it all the more important to stay alert for the following gum disease signs:
- Tender, red, or swelling gums or sores in the mouth
- Bleeding gums while you brush, floss, or eat hard or crunch food
- Gums receding (or pulling back from the teeth) making the teeth look longer
- Separating teeth or loose teeth
- Pus between the teeth and gums
- Chronic halitosis (bad breath) and a sour or other unpleasant taste in the mouth
- Altered bite affecting chewing or how partial dentures fit in the mouth
The challenge in recognizing one’s own gum disease is another reason why seeing a dentist in Indiana regularly for professional cleanings and general exams is so important. If you are developing signs of gum disease, your dentist or dental hygienist may notice them when you did not. Call our office to schedule a dental exam or cleaning and enlist the power of the pros in keeping your gums, mouth, and body healthy and safe.