The health of our gums, called periodontal health, is important for a variety of reasons, some that you may not have realized. Yes, poor gum health will lead to the loss of teeth, but there is more to it than that. People with poor gum health (known as Periodontitis) are at greater risk than normal for heart disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory problems, dementia, and pregnancy complications.
Your gums are the soft skin that covers the bones of your mouth and teeth. The gums form a tight seal around the teeth to keep them in place and also to provide a barrier against bacteria. The color of your gums can vary from pink to coral to brown and black. The pigment that gives skin its color also provides color to the gum tissue. This melanin pigmentation of the gums is normal. Healthy gums will be a pink color and, as we mentioned above, it’s important to do everything you can to keep them that way.
There are some things you can do at home when it comes to how to improve gum health:
#1 – Eat a healthy diet.
Limit food and drink with a high sugar content as well as highly acidic foods. This includes things like soda, coffee, and candy. When you do eat something that falls into this category, brush your teeth immediately afterward so that plaque and bacteria don’t build up along the gum line. To be more specific, here are some foods (plus water, of course!) that will help improve your gum health:
- Foods high in calcium and other nutrients: low-fat cheese, fat-free or low-fat milk, plain yogurt, and leafy greens.
- Foods high in protein: eggs, fish, meat, and poultry.
- Foods high in water content and fiber: fruits and vegetables.
As you see, the foods that are good for the rest of your body are also good for your teeth. Clear any dietary changes with your doctor but eat healthily and your teeth will be healthier, too!
#2 – Brush regularly!
At least twice a day, in the morning and evening. If you can brush after every meal or snack, your teeth and gums will be even healthier as you get older. You must also brush well enough to remove any food particles and plaque buildup in your mouth, as well as stimulate your gums.
You should brush for 30 seconds on each quadrant of your mouth, for a total of 2 minutes at each brushing. The toothbrush is held properly at a 45-degree angle against the teeth and gums. Ask your dental hygienist to give you a quick demonstration the next time you get your teeth cleaned.
The purchase of an electric toothbrush is a worthy investment in your oral hygiene and gum health. It has been shown that these toothbrushes remove more plaque than manual brushing can. The money you spend will lessen dental bills over time.
#3 – Use fluoride toothpaste.
Fluoride strengthens the outer layer of teeth and prevents cavities by making the enamel more resistant to the acids in food and drink. Fluoride can speed the buildup of healthy minerals in the enamel, which then slows decay in the teeth. Studies show that fluoride can even stop the decay that has started in a tooth. It is a powerful weapon in preventing gum disease and tooth loss.
Children who begin brushing with fluoride toothpaste as soon as possible have fewer cavities than those who didn’t. Purchase toothpaste that contains fluoride and do your part to protect the enamel on your teeth, and that of your children, and keep your gums healthy.
#4 – Rinse your teeth with an antibacterial mouthwash.
After you brush, rinse with a mouthwash made to fight bacteria and plaque buildup in your mouth. Many types of mouthwash do contain fluoride which, as mentioned above, is very effective at helping to keep your teeth and gums protected. Your dentist can also prescribe an antibacterial mouthwash, so don’t be afraid to ask!
#5 – Floss regularly.
Your toothbrush can’t get between the teeth as well as floss can. Flossing should be part of the entire ritual of brushing your teeth. The two actions together, as well as using an antibacterial mouthwash, is the most effective way to protect your gum health.
#6 – Don’t smoke.
If you smoke half a pack a day you are more than 3-times as likely to have gum disease. The risk skyrockets the more someone smokes. Nicotine limits the flow of blood to gum tissue, which helps cause gum disease. The gums and teeth of a smoker have deeper pockets around the teeth, more extensive and severe looseness of teeth, and more bone destruction. Consequently, the rate of tooth loss is much higher than non-smokers.
Recent research shows there is a strong link between vaping and periodontal disease, also. In fact, some dentists believe that vaping might be even more harmful to oral health. The chemicals used in the e-liquids, besides the nicotine itself, can cause gums to recede and then bleed, leading to tooth loss.
There is good news, though. Research has shown that smokers who have gum disease can improve the effects of that disease. Within one year of quitting, many smokers had significant improvement.
#7 – Keep up with your dental checkups and cleanings.
Vineland Affinity Dental Care is ready to help with your gum health! Dental exams allow your dental team to evaluate your overall dental health and take preventative action as needed. We use the most advanced methods and technology available to assess your current oral health and make suggestions for future preventative and corrective care. During a dental exam, we can also take measures to keep minor issues from becoming major problems.
Contact Vineland Affinity Dental Care today for an appointment! Get 2022 started off right!