When taking care of their oral health, many people prioritize their teeth but don’t understand the importance of gum health and periodontal maintenance. If you brush your teeth twice daily, floss regularly, and avoid overly sugary food, you may think your oral health is all taken care of. However, you may be neglecting your gum health without realizing it. If this is you, keep reading to discover everything you need to know about your gums and how to keep them healthy.
#1. Why Is Gum Health Important?
The health of your gums is an essential part of your overall well-being. Your gums support your teeth and provide a healthy foundation for their roots. They also provide a barrier to prevent the bacteria in your mouth from entering your bloodstream. When your gum health is compromised, they cannot perform these essential tasks, which can lead to a myriad of other problems.
#2. What Are the Warning Signs of Poor Gum Health?
There are a number of different things to be on the lookout for that may indicate problems with your gums. If your gums bleed easily, feel tender or swollen, or appear redder than normal, it may be time to talk to your dentist. They can evaluate your symptoms and examine your gums to determine the next steps.
#3. What Is Periodontal Maintenance?
If your gum health is not where it should be, your dentist might recommend periodontal maintenance, which is an effective way to regain control of your gum health. This involves visiting your dentist’s office about every three months for thorough cleanings both above and below the gum line in order to remove plaque, tartar, biofilm, and bacteria. This process reduces your symptoms and improves the health of your gums.
#4. Why Do I Need Periodontal Maintenance?
You may need periodontal maintenance if you have a disease affecting your gums.
When the gums become irritated due to accumulated plaque and tartar at the gum line, the gum tissue becomes red and swollen and may bleed easily. This is called gingivitis. This condition can be painless, so it’s easy to miss if you’re not getting routine exams from your dentist; however, if caught in the early stages, it is reversible.
When gingivitis progresses, it becomes gum disease. Gum disease is an infection in the tissue around the teeth and is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
It’s important to be on the lookout for signs of gum disease so you can treat it before it causes irreversible damage. The symptoms of gum disease include:
- Tender, red, or swollen gums
- Gums bleed easily
- Sensitive teeth or pain when chewing
- Receding gum line
- Consistent bad taste in the mouth or bad breath
- Loose teeth
- A change in the alignment of your teeth or jaw
- Teeth that look like they’re separating from each other
In its most advanced stages, gum disease becomes periodontitis. When someone has periodontitis, they may experience tissue and bone loss, which causes the teeth to be able to move freely.
Symptoms of periodontitis include excessive gum bleeding, teeth shifting, pus between the teeth and gums, painful chewing, and even tooth loss. Treatment for periodontitis is more intensive and may include tooth extractions, dentures, implants, and surgery to remove the infection.
You may be at greater risk for periodontitis if you have poor oral health habits, are of an older age, smoke or chew tobacco, have inadequate nutrition, have experienced hormonal changes, take medications that cause dry mouth, or have certain diseases.
Periodontitis is preventable through proper maintenance and good oral health habits. Catching gum health issues early can make the difference between keeping your teeth and losing them.
#5. How Can I Keep My Gums Healthy at Home?
Standard oral health habits such as brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash make a big difference in your gum health. Make sure you’re using toothpaste that contains fluoride and brushing the gums in addition to the teeth for the most effective treatment.
You also need to get regular dental cleanings. Dentists are able to remove tartar, which is hardened plaque that cannot be removed on your own at home.
Finally, smoking and tobacco use weaken your immune system, putting users at greater risk for gum disease. If you’re worried about your gum health, avoid smoking.
Periodontal Maintenance by Dr. Eric Felt
At the office of Dr. Eric Felt, we believe in taking care of every aspect of our patients’ oral health, including periodontal maintenance. Whatever dental treatments you need, we can help! Contact us today to schedule an appointment.