September is National Gum Care Month, which makes it a great time to brush up on the habits that can keep your mouth healthy and clean.
Your gums aren’t just important for your teeth! Behind those bright shining smiles, evidence shows that there is a strong correlation between periodontal disease and other diseases in the body. Here’s what you need to know to help you optimize your gum and overall body health:
What is Periodontal (Gum) Disease?
Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth and is caused by plaque. Plaque—a sticky film that is constantly forming on your teeth—contains bacteria that produce harmful toxins. If your teeth aren’t cared for properly, the toxins can irritate and inflame the gums, which can form pockets that provide an unwelcome home for more bacteria. Untreated pockets worsen the disease, causing further damage to the bone and other tissues that support the teeth.
How Does This Affect My Overall Health?
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), half (roughly 65 million) of Americans age 30 or older have periodontitis, the more advanced form of periodontal disease. As periodontal disease progresses, bacterial enzymes break down the gum tissue, which allows bacteria to enter the body. Because your gums are full of blood vessels, bacteria can get into your bloodstream and trigger inflammation—which can cause damage to blood vessels as well as diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune conditions.
What are the warning signs?
- Red, tender or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Loose teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Painful chewing
- Food accumulation in gums
- Sensitive teeth
- Receding gums or longer appearing teeth
- Pus between gums or teeth
Although the warning signs can be evident, sometimes it takes a trained dentist to make the correlation between other possible diseases that often cause no pain and have few, if any symptoms.
What Can Be Done to Prevent Periodontal Disease?
Good oral hygiene is crucial in preventing periodontal disease. By thorough daily brushing and flossing, you can remove these germs and help prevent this disease. In addition, a professional cleaning at a minimum of every 6 months can be just what you need to get to those hidden places where your toothbrush and flossing might have missed.
The Importance of Routine Check-Ups
Runaway gum disease can cause serious problems—it can even be deadly. That’s why it’s more important than ever to brush and floss twice a day, get dental checkups every six months and see your dentist right away with any problems.
Call us today to learn more about the importance of gum health and schedule an appointment to let Dr. Stante help you better protect your teeth, gums and overall health.