September marks the start of the new school year, but for your dentist, it’s also National Gum Care Awareness month. It’s the perfect opportunity for children and adults alike to learn more about the importance of taking care of those soft tissues near your gums. Take this time to educate yourself on excellent gum health – and what might happen if you don’t maintain it!
What Do the Gums Do?
The roots of your teeth are hidden beneath the gum tissue. They’re very sensitive, and if they’re damaged, you might eventually find that there are gaps in your smile. When healthy, your gums help protect these roots from physical damage and decay; if they become diseased, however, they could actually put your mouth at risk for even worse problems.
How Can I Tell if My Gums are Unhealthy?
If your gums become infected, the condition is called gum disease. It starts as gingivitis and, over time, can advance to periodontitis. There are several warning signs that might tell you that your gums have become infected, including:
- Gums that have become swollen or are redder than normal
- A receding gum line that exposes more of your teeth (causing your tooth to look longer)
- Gums that bleed easily whenever you brush or floss
- Pus oozing out of the gums
- Tender gums
- Loose teeth
It’s better to have gum disease identified and treated while it’s still in the easily treatable gingivitis stage. Periodontitis will usually require more advanced procedures such as scaling and root planing. Furthermore, unchecked gum disease has been linked to all kinds of health problems (for example, heart attacks, digestive issues and diabetes). In other words, infected gums could eventually lead to grave consequences for the rest of your body.
How Can You Take Care of Your Gums?
Your gums need just as much care and attention as your teeth. When you brush, don’t forget to clean near the gum line; it can be easy to miss this spot without realizing it. Also, flossing is crucial for getting rid of the debris and plaque between the teeth. Ideally, you should brush and floss at least twice a day.
Rinsing out your mouth after a meal is a good way to get rid of the bacteria that can lead to plaque and tartar. However, be careful about rinsing after brushing; you don’t want to rinse off the fluoride that’s meant to protect your teeth!
Finally, you should schedule a checkup and cleaning with your dentist every six months to make sure that you’re not developing any serious oral health issues. If you’re at a higher risk for gum disease (whether it’s due to genetics or a weakened immune system), you might need more frequent appointments. Make a plan so that you can ensure you’re giving your gums the best protection possible!
About the Author
Dr. Kelly Blair gained valuable experience serving as a dentist in a variety of communities in Washington, North Carolina and Oklahoma before returning to her home state of Texas. She enjoys the opportunity to help patients achieve healthy and beautiful smiles. If you have concerns about gum disease and would like to schedule a checkup at her practice in Fort Worth, visit her website or call (817) 737-5155.