Teeth and Gums

Gum disease and how it affects your health

Gum health is one of those topics that most people don’t really know much about. We all know the importance of looking after our teeth but when it comes to our gums the majority of people don’t know what the signs of unhealthy gums are. In this article, we’ll take a look at the function of the gums, how gum disease affects your health and how best to prevent it to help avoid gingivitis and periodontal disease.

The function of your gums

We all pretty much take our gums for granted but did you know what they actually do? Your gums are a protective layer of skin that cover the bones of your mouth and form a tight seal between your teeth. This seal acts like a barrier keeping bacteria and food particles away from the base of your teeth, your jawbone and the delicate nerves.

How gum disease affects your health

Your mouth is full of bacteria both good and bad and no matter how well you clean your teeth and mouth you will always have bacteria. What is important is the balance of bacteria in your mouth as you need a healthy balance of bacteria. The problem comes when you develop pathogenic bacteria which is generally caused by a build-up of plaque on your teeth. Failing to clean your teeth properly can lead to gingivitis which if not treated can then lead to a condition called periodontitis which affects the tissues that support teeth and hold them in place.

As well as affecting your dental health periodontitis has been linked to the following physical health problems:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Dementia
  • Chronic respiratory disease

Signs of gum disease

Gum disease is not as uncommon as you may think and often people ignore some of the milder symptoms. Common signs of gum disease include bad teeth as well as small amounts of blood when you brush your teeth. This is the early stage of gum disease and it is known as gingivitis. If left untreated this can lead to sore, swollen and infected gums which increases your chances of developing a condition known as periodontitis. Like any dental problem the sooner you can treat gum disease the less damage is caused.

Will smoking affect my gums

People who smoke are more likely to produce pathogenic bacteria than those who do not. For those already suffering from gingivitis or gum disease, smoking will also cause a lack of oxygen which will prevent gums from healing properly. Those who smoke will also find that gum disease will get worse at a much faster rate compared to non-smokers.

What happens if you don’t treat gum disease?

Unlike tooth decay, gum disease generally does not cause pain as it gets worse, so people often ignore signs such as blood while brushing their teeth until the damage is done. Sore gums that are caused by bacteria can lead to gum abscesses and over time the bone that supports the teeth can be lost causing tooth loss.

How you can prevent and treat gum disease

Mild cases of gum disease can often be treated by improving your levels of oral hygiene. This includes brushing your teeth at least twice a day, regularly flossing between teeth and using a dentist-approved mouth wash. While this should be enough to treat mild symptoms, it is also recommended to have a dental check-up as your dentist or a trained hygienist will be able to treat the underlying cause of your gum disease, such as a build-up of plaque on your teeth.

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