Healthy gums are an important part of a healthy mouth, but 40% of Americans have gum disease and don’t even know it. Recognizing unhealthy gums before gingivitis or, worse, periodontitis, sets in can be hard. Thankfully, though, maintaining gum health is easy; all it takes is consistency.
If you’ve ever wondered what contributes to oral health, or what things your can do to improve your gum health, read on. This guide covers what contributes to gum disease, how gum inflammation works, and what happens if you don’t improve your habits.
Sugar, Soda, and your Gums
Gum disease is usually the byproduct of multiple bad habits that intersect in troubling ways. The bacteria which cause gum disease flourish in acidic environments, which are often created by the acid beverages and sodas that many Americans consume. When an acidic diet is combined with bad oral hygiene (which is typically caused by inconsistent brushing and dental visits), the end result can be an environment perfect for bad bacteria.
Cutting sugar out of your diet entirely is impractical, but being aware of how your diet affects your oral health is important. Brush your teeth consistently, at least twice a day, especially after sugary meals. When you do indulge in sugary drinks, drink water afterwards.
Gum inflammation and gum pain can be caused by a variety of things. Certain foods, like chips and popcorn, can break into sharp pieces that lacerate the gums, causing pain and swelling. Sticky foods tend to adhere to the teeth and seal in bacteria. Even certain toothpastes, which contain abrasive particles, can contribute to pain and inflammation in sensitive gums.
The biggest causes of inflamed gums, however, are gingivitis and periodontitis; simple and advanced gum disease. Gum disease is typically caused by the accumulation of plaque along the gumline, which traps and incubates bacteria. As the bacteria develops the body fights it, causing the gums to swell and ache as a side effect. If left untreated, it can lead to tooth decay, abscesses, and even death.
As always, the first step to treating oral health issues is to improve your habits. Make sure you’re brushing and flossing regularly, and talk to your dentist if symptoms persist. Gingivitis can be reversible without medical intervention; periodontitis is harder to treat, and may involve surgery.
Tobacco use contributes to gum disease, as does sugar intake (as mentioned above). Adding some basic habits (like rinsing your mouth with water) can reduce your oral bacteria count by as much as 30%, however brushing is still the best preventative habit. Studies have found that dry brushing (brushing without water or toothpaste) before brushing your teeth normally can remove an additional 67% of plaque deposits along the gum line.
What Can Happen If You Don’t Take Care of Your Gums
Gum disease progresses slowly, but the results can be damaging. Only a fraction of teenagers have gingivitis, while nearly half of adults show the signs of gum disease. The numbers go up for the elderly and certain disadvantaged groups. This can lead to dangerous situations where individuals develop cysts, rotten teeth, and abscesses, and don’t seek treatment until it’s too late.
The easiest way to keep your gums healthy is to build consistent habits; relying on intervention is an easy way to lose a tooth, or worse. Individuals with periodontitis often need gum surgery, tooth replacement, and even dentures. In some cases, periodontitis sufferers even need plastic surgery to remodel their face and jaw after abscesses have been removed.
Brushing your teeth isn’t time consuming. The supplies are cheap (and subsidized options are commonly available), the routine is simple, and the results are incomparable. If you’re concerned about your gum health, or you’re looking for a dentist in Carmel, Indiana, feel free to schedule an appointment or get in touch with us.