When it comes to oral hygiene, most people focus on teeth. But gums are just as important, even more so since they hold the teeth in place.
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tooth decay, and gingivitis (gum disease) are closely linked. Around 60% of U.S. children show signs of gum disease and every 1 in 5 children aged five to 11 have at least one decayed tooth as a direct result of gingivitis.
An advanced form of gum disease is called periodontitis. It impacts the bones that hold your teeth in place. If left untreated, it can injure the gums, bones, and tissues connected to your teeth.
The last stage of gum disease is advanced periodontitis, which leads to fibers and bone supporting your teeth being destroyed. This can impact your bite, and teeth may need to be removed.
Dentistry Harrisburg NC thinks everyone deserves a perfect smile, and it all starts with good teeth and gum care.
The first signs of unhealthy gums
Inflammation and bleeding are the first obvious signs of gum problems. Children that experience bleeding while brushing or flossing are at risk of having early-onset gingivitis. Other symptoms of unhealthy gums include:
- Receding gum line
- Areas of white spots on the gums
- Loss of tissue and bone (severe gingivitis)
- Consistently bad taste or breath
- Separating or losing permanent teeth
Keeping your children’s gums healthy, as well as your own, is not just important for oral health, but for your overall health too. Many studies show links between poor oral health and other health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, or obesity.
Food for healthy gums
Taking care of your oral health with brushing, flossing, and regular visits to your dentist is the best way to keep your gums healthy.
Aside from that, there is one other way to naturally strengthen your gums – a diet of mouth-friendly foods. It is essential to keep your child’s sugar intake limited and make sure they drink plenty of water instead of sugary drinks. A mouth-friendly diet consists of:
- Apples – experts often refer to apples as Mother Nature’s floss. Apple has natural acids that help clean teeth and gums, and its skin acts as a natural flossing mechanism that keeps gums healthy.
- Dairy products – A few foods can match dairy for concentrated calcium content. Encourage your children to take sugar-free yogurt, milk, and cheese.
- Fibrous vegetables – As fibrous vegetables take extra chewing to break down, they prompt saliva production. The saliva washes away harmful bacteria and keeps gums free of food particles and plaque.
- Ginger root – Ginger root has naturally occurring anti-inflammatory compounds that keep teeth and gums healthy.
- Black and green teas – These types of teas help reduce bacteria in your mouth.
There are also foods and beverages that you should avoid to keep your gums healthy. These include:
- Carbonated drinks contain phosphoric and citric acids and sugar.
- Alcohol, since it can dry out your mouth.
- Sticky sweets and desserts that stay in the mouth for a while.
- Heavy foods can be stuck between your teeth.
Aside from eating healthy food, it is also important to implement these practices into your daily routine:
Floss – To keep both teeth and gums healthy, you need to floss at least once a day. This removes the plaque and food from places your toothbrush can not reach.
Get regular dental cleanings – If you regularly visit your dentist, they can detect early gum disease manifestations and treat them before becoming more serious. Professional cleaning is the only way to eliminate tartar, as well as get rid of any plaque you may have missed when brushing or flossing.
Quit smoking – Smoking is strongly associated with the onset of gum disease. It weakens your immune system, making it more difficult to fight off gum disease and making it more difficult for your gums to heal once they have been damaged.
Brush twice a day – Brushing your teeth after every meal helps remove teeth and plaque trapped between your teeth and gums. Your tongue can also harbor bacteria, so it is essential to scrub it too. A battery-powered or electric toothbrush can help reduce gingivitis and plaque more than manual brushing.
Use fluoride toothpaste – Always make sure to choose toothpaste that contains fluoride and has the ADA seal of acceptance.
Use a therapeutic mouthwash – According to the ADA, therapeutic mouthwash reduces plaque, prevents or reduces gingivitis, and reduces the speed tartar develops.
Simple oral care that you can practice at home and regular dental checkups can go a long way to preventing and reversing gum disease. As we heard from the Women’s Center Fort Lauderdale, it is important to call your doctor if you notice any signs of bleeding gums during pregnancy.
If you begin to show any signs of gum disease, such as pain in the gums that lasts for more than a week, please see your dentist.