Your gums are an essential part of your oral health. Taking care of them is necessary for keeping your mouth healthy and strong. Whether you have recently noticed gum issues or want a refresher, this guide can provide all the information you need to understand and care for your gums.
What Are Gums?
Gums are the soft tissue that lines the inside of your mouth and supports the teeth. They are considered connective tissue similar to tendons and ligaments in other body parts. Healthy gums are pink, fit snugly around each tooth, and do not bleed easily when touched or brushed. The gums also help to keep bacteria from entering deeper tissues in the mouth.
Signs of Poor Gum Health
Any changes in your gum color, texture, or shape could be a sign of poor gum health. Other indicators include bleeding when brushing or flossing, receding gum lines (when the gum pulls away from the teeth), swollen or tender gums, bad breath, and loose teeth. If you experience any of these signs, consult your dentist as soon as possible to determine what action should be taken. This can lead to periodontal disease or oral cancer without appropriate measures.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums and bones that hold teeth in place. It begins when plaque accumulates on the teeth and hardens into tartar, which a professional dental cleaning can only remove. When left untreated, the toxins in plaque and tartar cause inflammation in the gums, leading to gingivitis—the first stage of periodontal disease. Gingivitis is redness, swelling, and bleeding when brushing or flossing.
Gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, the more advanced stages of gum disease. At this point, pockets will form between the teeth and gums as they pull away from each other due to deep bacterial infection. As these pockets deepen, more bacteria are allowed to enter beneath the gum line, accelerating tooth decay and causing further damage to the supporting bone structure.
The severity of periodontitis varies from person to person but can lead to permanent damage if left untreated for too long. Symptoms include receding gums, loose or shifting teeth, chronic bad breath, and pain or sensitivity when eating or drinking.
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral cancer is a severe condition that can have devastating consequences if left untreated. It affects both men and women, and its symptoms—such as mouth sores, red or white patches on the tongue or inside of the cheek, or persistent hoarseness—are often difficult to detect in its early stages.
Oral cancer occurs when cells in the mouth grow out of control. This can be caused by several factors, such as smoking cigarettes, exposure to certain viruses (such as HPV), excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet, sun exposure, genetics, and more. However anyone can develop oral cancer, but certain risk factors increase your chances of developing it. These include being over 40 years old (though oral cancer is becoming increasingly common among younger people), being male (men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer than women), having a family history of oral or other types of cancers, using tobacco products (including smokeless tobacco), having multiple sexual partners (which increases your exposure to HPV), excessive sun exposure without protection (particularly on lips or face), and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
Taking Care Of Your Gums
Good Oral Hygiene
Good oral hygiene is key to preventing poor gum health. Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss daily at a minimum; however, aim to brush after every meal if possible.
Replace Missing Teeth
Missing teeth can lead to gum recession if not replaced. Missing molars or premolars can also cause other teeth to shift out of place, which can impact the alignment and function of your bite. The best way to replace missing teeth is by getting teeth implants. These implants are made from titanium to match the color and shape of natural teeth and provide a stable foundation for replacement teeth.
Avoid Tobacco Products
Additionally, avoid certain products, such as tobacco products (including e-cigarettes), that can damage gums and cause oral cancer over time. There are various ways you can quit smoking or chewing tobacco, including nicotine replacement therapy, counseling and support groups, medications, or other treatments.
Your gums are essential for maintaining good oral health; taking care of them is crucial for keeping them healthy and intense over time. By understanding how to identify signs of poor gum health and adequately taking care of them, you can reduce the chances of periodontal disease or oral cancer. Additionally, regular visits with your dentist will also help with early detection so that any issues can be addressed before they become more severe problems down the line. Investing in good oral hygiene now will pay off in dividends later!