Caring for your teeth protects your oral health, but did you know it is just as important to care for your gums? The gums are the soft tissues surrounding the base of the teeth and the jawbone, protecting both from damage and helping hold the teeth in place. Unfortunately, neglecting the gums often leads to gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease, which progresses to a more severe condition called periodontitis. Periodontitis often leads to infection, tooth loss, and overall health issues.

Is Gum Disease a Serious Problem?

Four out of five adults develop some form of gum disease at some point. National Gum Care Month was established to bring awareness to the prevalence of gum disease and remind people that proper oral hygiene has to include caring for the soft tissues supporting the teeth.

Gingivitis is the buildup of plaque and tartar on your teeth, causing infection and inflammation of the gums. It’s estimated that almost 50% of U.S. adults over age 30 have at least mild gingivitis. Left untreated, gingivitis leads to periodontitis, a more serious bacterial infection that pulls the gums away from tooth roots and erodes the jawbone, leading to tooth loss.

Periodontal infections can enter the bloodstream, affecting the body’s immune response and contributing to a wide range of health problems. It is linked to rheumatoid arthritis, respiratory problems, heart disease, dementia, and blood sugar fluctuations. Periodontitis increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Checking for Healthy Gums

If you aren’t sure whether your gums are healthy, take a few minutes to examine them in front of a mirror. Look for healthy, pink tissue that is firm to the touch. Any of the following symptoms indicate gum disease and require an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible:

  • Receding gums
  • Puffy or swollen gums
  • Areas of the gums that are bright red or purple
  • Tender gums
  • New sensitivity to hot and cold foods
  • Bleeding gums when you brush your teeth
  • A recurring metallic taste in the mouth
  • Blood on your toothbrush after brushing
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Pus or discharge around the base of the teeth
  • Loose teeth or teeth that ache when touched
  • Painful chewing
  • Changes in your bite (the way the teeth fit together when you close your mouth)

Caring for Your Gums

Good oral hygiene is essential to preventing gum disease.

  • Brush your teeth and gums twice daily. Put your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to brush away bacteria and plaque at the gumline.
  • Floss to remove bacteria and reduce plaque buildup.
  • Rinse the mouth daily with an antibacterial mouthwash.
  • See your dentist at least twice a year for a professional dental cleaning. If you are prone to gingivitis or periodontitis, you need to see your dentist more frequently.

The average person between 20-39 has at least one missing tooth. By the time they are 49, the average individual is missing three or more teeth, with individuals over 60 typically missing eight teeth. Most of these teeth are lost due to gum disease. Good oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist can prevent most tooth loss from periodontitis.

During National Gum Care Month, we invite new and current patients to arrange for a professional teeth cleaning and checkup. Contact our office at Tonka Smiles Phone Number 952-938-8533 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Johnson or Dr. Phillips.