You know the saying, “ A smile is the quickest way to brighten a room.” But what happens when you haven’t taken care of your gums? Poor dental hygiene affects your body in several different ways. It can impact your self-esteem, speech, and overall quality of life. And while everyone might want beautiful white teeth, not many may understand that healthy teeth start with healthy gums! Gums are the foundation of a healthy gleaming smile. If neglected, you will see the adverse effects pretty quickly.
Not only does gum disease affect your teeth, eventually resulting in losing them, research has shown that it also directly impacts other conditions, including lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and rheumatoid arthritis. Gum complications can also affect pregnancy, increasing the chances of premature birth or low birth weight.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease starts with plaque, a sticky substance that clings to your teeth and migrates down to the root of the tooth. If not removed daily through flossing and brushing, the plaque builds up to create tartar. Tartar buildup inflames your gums and erodes your tooth enamel. If you have swollen, bleeding gums, chances are you have gingivitis.
Another symptom of gingivitis is your gums may start to pull away from your teeth. Though gum recession could be caused by genetics, grinding your teeth while you sleep, or intense brushing, in most cases, plaque and tartar are to blame. Gum recession, unlike gum disease, is not reversible. You may experience increased sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, as the tooth’s root is not as well-protected by enamel.
Reversing Gum Disease
Luckily, it is easily reversible! Just practice proper oral hygiene like flossing once a day and brushing twice a day for two minutes each. Suppose you don’t take care to remove the plaque. Gingivitis could become periodontitis: a more severe form of gingivitis that causes pockets of toxins to form around your gums, dissolving the tissues and bones.
Many dental and oral problems develop without any symptoms, so what can you do to keep your gums healthy?
- Have your teeth cleaned by a professional every six months? Not only will they remove excess plaque, but they will also be able to see if any hidden symptoms are occurring.
- Floss your teeth at least once a day before brushing.
- Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice per day.
- Watch the color of your gums! Healthy gums should range from medium pink to light brown, depending on your skin tone. Dark red gums indicate gingivitis or periodontitis.
- Reduce your sugar intake.
Though keeping your gums healthy requires you to make an effort, know that even if you are very vigilant in maintaining your oral health, you may still experience some gum complications brought about by hormonal changes. For example, during pregnancy, rising progesterone can make women more susceptible to gingivitis.
While you may not prevent every single cavity, you can reduce your chances of gum disease and other illnesses by practicing proper daily hygiene.