It’s time to talk about gum health, which may not seem so important at first. Think about it: You use your mouth every day and you probably have no idea how healthy your gums are.
Here are a few tips to show you that your gums are in good condition;
Light to medium pink (has the potential to be darker, but still healthy for your skin tone); they look solid, fit your teeth perfectly; flossing is not that uncomfortable and you won’t be bothered by the heat or cold.
If you can’t say “yes” to all of the above, your gums may need some attention, and you’re not alone in this. According to studies, nearly half of adults aged 30 and over have some form of periodontal (gum) disease, which occurs when bacteria infect the gums and bones that support the teeth.
Gum disease is no joke. When severe enough, it even leads to tooth loss.
Here are the signs that your gums are unhealthy so you can’t ignore them:
.They bleed when you brush or floss.
.It is red and puffy.
.They begin to pull over your teeth.
.Pain or tenderness is felt when eating or drinking something hot or cold, or when brushing.
The good news is that having gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease, is one of the few conditions where you can turn back time. When gingivitis progresses to periodontitis, bacteria spread below the gum line and can even affect bone, which can eventually lead to tooth loss.
Periodontitis can be mild, moderate or severe, depending on how much bone is lost. “The bone you lose is gone forever, even if you bring it back to a healthy state,” dentists say.
If that’s not reason enough to pay more attention to your gums, your oral health can often hint at whether it’s something to do with the rest of your body. It can even affect how the rest of your body works. Here’s what you need to know.
If your gums are starting to recede, you may be experiencing stress or have sleep apnea.
Grinding or clenching your teeth at night while you sleep (bruxism) puts a lot of pressure on your gumline, teeth, and jawbones. This can make your teeth appear longer than normal and can also cause sensitivity if enough teeth are exposed.
Although you may grind your teeth due to health problems such as anxiety and stress, this condition is also often linked to sleep apnea. Sleep apnea happens when your throat muscles relax, which can block your airway and prevent you from breathing, and one in four people with obstructive sleep apnea grind their teeth while sleeping.
It is important to manage [bruxism] with clenches, which is a non-invasive way to protect people’s teeth from cracking. However, if grinding your teeth is related to sleep apnea, there are ways to address it as well. There are a variety of intraoral plaques for bruxism, including some for relieving sleep apnea – be sure to check with your dentist or periodontist to see if it’s right for you.
Also, if your gums are receding, you may just be using a toothbrush that is too hard or too old, or you are brushing too heavily, you should replace your toothbrush every three to four months (or if the bristles look worn) and only use toothbrushes with soft bristles.
Sores on your gums can be an indication of herpes.
There are two strains of the virus that cause herpes: HSV-1 and HSV-2. While many people think it can cause oral outbreaks known as cold sores, the latter can also happen.
These painful sores usually occur at the border of the mouth where the lips meet the skin. However, they can also erupt inside the mouth, including on the gums. If this is about to happen, you will feel some tingling, burning or itching before sores appear, eventually spotting blisters. An outbreak can last for days, and blisters can take two to four weeks to heal completely. If you think you have cold sores in your gums or elsewhere, be sure to contact your doctor, who can prescribe you an antiviral medication to potentially speed up your recovery.
Pale gums can be a sign of anemia.
Healthy gums can be light to medium pink, or sometimes purple or brown if you have dark skin. While deep, angry-looking pinks or reds can be a cause for concern, colors on the other side of the spectrum can too. Too many pale gums can be a sign of anemia, the blood disorder occurs when your red blood cell count is low or you don’t have the iron-rich protein hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is what gives blood its color, and without enough of it, you may notice pallor, including your gums.
If you have pale gums and other signs of anemia, such as fatigue and dizziness, you should contact your doctor. Dry gums can be a sign of immune system problems.
Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease, meaning it occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your body. This condition affects the mucous membranes of your eyes and mouth, which can lead to decreased gum and saliva levels and dry mouth, including your gums. When your gums become dry, it can contribute to or worsen gum disease.
Sjogren’s syndrome often occurs with rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. Of course, if your gums are inflamed, it certainly doesn’t mean you have an autoimmune condition. But if you have irritatingly dry gums, it’s definitely worth consulting your doctor or dentist.
In some people, gum disease and diabetes also share a link.
If you have uncontrolled diabetes, your body may have a harder time breaking down bacteria in the mouth. It can make gum disease more severe and take longer to heal.
There may also be a relationship between gum disease and heart disease. While neglecting your oral health doesn’t cause heart disease, enough research has suggested that gum disease and heart disease are a poorly understood relationship between the two.
Periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease are complex conditions that share common risk factors.
There is also some evidence that maternal gum disease may be associated with an increased risk of preterm birth (giving birth at 37 weeks or less) and low birth weight (5.5 pounds or less), according to experts.
To keep your teeth and gums healthy, you should brush at least twice a day and use dental floss.
And no matter how much you don’t like it, don’t put off your dental cleaning every 6 months! Remember! Even if good brushing and cleaning is provided, you need to come to the dentist periodically. These visits are important for maintaining overall healthy teeth – but they are also an important step in reversing any gingivitis you may have or keeping your mouth the best it can be if you have periodontitis.