Swollen gums are more than an unsightly irritant. They could lead not only to loss of teeth, but serious long-term health problems.
Known commonly, and in its early stages, as gingivitis, swollen gums can appear red, inflamed, and are easily irritated by brushing or eating. When plaque accumulates on the teeth, it breeds bacteria, which can cause infection, which in turn causes your immune system to fight back by breaking down both the bacteria and the tissue holding your teeth in place. At advanced stages, called "periodontal disease," patients can end up not only without teeth, but with serious problems with the jawbone.
"If not treated, the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed”, according to Dental Health Services Victoria, the state's leading public oral health agency. "Oral health problems are also related to general health," including heart disease and diabetes.
To help prevent swollen gum disease, we recommend the following steps:
- Brush and Floss:The #1 preventative technique for preventing gum disease is to brush and floss your teeth at least twice daily. The type of brush doesn't matter (manual or electric makes little difference), and waxed or threader floss is a matter of personal preference. They all serve the same purpose, which is to reduce sticky plaque buildup and the irritation and infections it creates.
- Get Checked:It doesn't take years of med school for a doctor to notice red, inflamed gums, but it's reassuring if only to confirm what you're already seeing in the mirror every morning. Besides that, dentists deep clean the buildup of plaque and tartar. If you have concerns, twice-annual dental cleanings are the time to voice them.
- Kick Bad Habits:Smoking (at $40 a pack by the year 2020!) is not a tenable pastime. Take up fishing instead. The same for drinking. Smoke and heavy drinks run a significantly higher risk of oral cancers and gum problems.
- Avoid Sugar:Like the humans it feeds on, bacteria loves sugar, thrives on sugar, and causes the as much damage to the mouth as it does the liver, eyes, and brain. Avoid the sweets and stick with real food - vegetables, fruit, whole grains and meat.
- Rinse: Studies show that rinsing with hydrogen peroxide and Listerine or chlorhexidine mouthwash can significantly reduce plaque, thus preventing gingivitis and gum disease. Swish for 30 seconds to a minute three times a week with over-the-counter hydrogen peroxide (which also serves as a whitening agent over time), and rinse daily with Listerine or chlorhexidine mouthwash.
- Keep bacteria at bay, and keep your smile for years to come. For more information or to arrange a check up, contact us at Morrin Dental today.