The gums are an important part of the mouth. When it comes to oral health, healthy teeth are just a part of the whole picture. Even if you have cavity free and strong teeth, that doesn’t mean that you will not develop gum disease. Gum disease may not present symptoms initially and are usually painless. Therefore you may not know that something is wrong before it gets too late.
Plaque–the cause of gum disease
Gum disease is caused due to the buildup of plaque along the gum line. Plaque is a mass of bacteria that grows on the surfaces of the teeth. It is colorless in the initial stages but when it forms tartar, it is brown or pale yellow in color. Plaque formation can cause tooth decay and gum disease. Plaque also causes gingivitis which is an inflammation of the gums. It causes gums to become inflamed, red or swollen and bleeding. If it is left untreated, gingivitis can cause separation of the gums from the teeth. Fortunately, the damage caused by gingivitis is reversible.
Poor oral hygiene can also result in a condition known as periodontitis. Periodontitis is a serious gum infection that can damage the soft tissue and destroy the bone supporting the teeth. It can result in loss of teeth. In worst cases, it can also increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. Periodontitis is very common but can also be easily prevented. It occurs due to poor oral hygiene. Brushing twice a day, flossing regularly and visiting the dentist regularly can prevent periodontitis.
Signs of gum disease
The following signs may indicate that you have gum disease:
- Bad breath
- Bleeding gums
- Swollen or tender gums
- Loose permanent teeth
- Pulling away of the gums from the teeth
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should immediately schedule an appointment with your dentist for necessary treatment.
How to prevent gum disease?
Gum disease can be easily prevented. Here are six tips to prevent gum disease.
Brush twice everyday. Brushing your teeth immediately after meals provides the best results. Brushing removes food particles and microbes that that trapped in the teeth. A soft bristled toothbrush used with proper brushing technique provides the best results. You should always use soft to and fro movements. Never use excessive force while brushing as it can result in injury to the gums. You should also replace your toothbrush once every 3 to 4 months.
Use fluoridated toothpaste. There are many different types of toothpastes available in the market. Fluoride toothpastes account for almost 95% of all toothpaste sales. Fluoride prevents dental problems as it strengthens the enamel of the teeth. It also acts against the acid produced by the bacteria present in the teeth and therefore prevents dental caries.
Floss your teeth everyday. Flossing removes plaque and trapped food particles that cannot be removed through regular brushing. Plaque that is not removed by brushing can harden into a substance called tartar (also known as calculus). Tartar collects along the gum line and leads to gum disease. There are two types of floss: nylon floss and PTFE floss. When used properly, both types of floss are equally effective at removing plaque and debris. Flossing is an essential part of taking care of your gums.
Use a medicated mouthwash. Medicated mouthwashes contain chemicals which kill bacteria present in the plaque which cause cavities, gingivitis and bad breath. Certain mouthwashes also contain fluoride and provide additional protection from tooth decay. Cosmetic mouthwashes temporarily control and reduce bad breath and leave the mouth with a pleasant taste. A mouthwash is not a substitute for brushing and flossing even though it can remove food particles and microbes trapped in the mouth to some extent.
Quit smoking. Smoking is strongly associated with dental problems. Smoking can lead to staining of the teeth, gum disease and tooth loss. Smoking and other tobacco products lead to gum disease by affecting the attachment of bone and soft tissue of the teeth. In severe cases, it can also cause mouth cancer. Smoking also makes the immune system weak which makes it harder to fight off gum and other infections.
Visit your dentist regularly. You should visit your dentist at least once in every six months. Regular dental visits are essential for maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Plaque and tartar can build up in a short span of time if proper oral hygiene is not followed. If gum disease is detected early, it can be treated before it becomes more serious. Visiting your dentist regularly can also help in the identification of oral cancer, diabetes and vitamin deficiencies.