September is National Gum Care Month. Let’s look at how your gums are a significant indicator of your overall health and learn tips for preventing gum disease.
Gum Disease Defined
There’s a link between poor gum health and many chronic diseases. So the next time you brush and floss your teeth, start by taking a closer look in the mirror and the sink. Gingivitis, gum disease in its early stage, causes swollen, red gums that may bleed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More serious gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, occurs when the gums start to pull away from your teeth. It causes pockets to form between the tooth and gum. Food usually gets stuck in these pockets. That, combined with the bacteria in your mouth, can cause inflammation, which is when gum disease can occur.
Gum Health Can Influence Body Health
Scientists aren’t sure what the precise cause and effect are between gum disease and the more than 120 other chronic illnesses it’s linked to, but studies show a connection. Some conditions include diabetes, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, heart disease, kidney disease and asthma.
A graphic showing the stages of periodontal (gum) disease.
That’s a lot! Some studies even link poor oral health in pregnant women to premature birth and low birth rate. According to WebMD, one study reported that “people with serious gum disease were 40% more likely to have a chronic condition on top of it.”
For some, it could simply come down to inflammation or infection. One of the most vital connections between gums and overall health is when your gums fight inflammation. When your body is busy fighting problems in one area (say, your gums), it could be more challenging to combat issues in other areas. During the process, your body’s ability to control blood sugar weakens, which is how gum disease and diabetes are connected.
Also according to WebMD, 91% of patients with heart disease have gum disease.
Gum Disease Treatment with Personalized Patient Care
Romeoville Dental Center patients who are diagnosed with periodontal disease receive a personalized cleaning schedule, beyond the typical six-month regimen, that’s specifically designed to treat the disease. Contact our team to learn more.
How to Prevent Gum Disease
Many factors could cause you to develop any of those chronic illnesses mentioned above, including family history. But taking proper care of your gums and teeth may help decrease your chances of developing a related chronic disease. Best of all, it’s easy to do and doesn’t take much time!
Brush, Floss and Visit the Dentist
You’re lying in bed, reading a good book, and then you reach over, turn off the lamp and lay your head on the pillow. Suddenly, you remember, “I didn’t brush my teeth.” But you talk yourself out of it. “Oh, well! I’ll do it in the morning.”
No! Get up and do it instead! We know you’re cozy, but you’ll get comfy again. We promise! If not brushing your teeth before bed becomes a habit, the damage can add up over time.
You should brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes. And if you’re already experiencing gum issues, we can prescribe a specific toothpaste just for that.
Also, floss and use an antibacterial mouthwash. When it comes to flossing, the American Dental Association recommends you use approximately 18 inches of floss each time.
Finally, be sure to schedule (and keep) your regular dental checkups. Once every six months is suitable for most people, but if you’re pregnant or a person with diabetes, you may want to go more often.
Good Habits for Good Oral Health
Here are a few more ways to protect your mouth from gum disease and promote overall good health.
- Eat a healthy diet. Limit the number of sugary foods and drinks you consume.
- Avoid cigarettes and chewing tobacco. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “smokers usually have a much better chance of quitting with a support program.” If you need help with this, several organizations are ready to assist.
- Replace your toothbrush every three to four months. If it’s starting to look a little frayed, it’s time to get a new one. We love that new toothbrush feeling! You’ll notice the difference immediately the next time you brush your teeth.
To schedule your next visit, complete our contact form or call our office at 815-886-0875.