When talking about oral health, it’s not just your teeth that deserve some TLC. Gum health is an oft neglected part of oral health. The gums are the soft pink tissue that encircle your teeth and encase your teeth roots and jaw bone. The gums have two important functions- firstly, they serve as a protective layer against disease-causing bacteria; secondly, they help keep the teeth in their correct position and prevent them from loosening.
Gum diseases start due to bad dental hygiene practises; plaque and tartar that build up at the tooth and gum margin are loaded with disease causing bacteria. This build up leads to decay in the teeth and infected, swollen, bleeding gums. This stage is known as gingivitis. If this condition is not corrected in time, the infection can progress into the bone that houses the teeth, leading to a disease called periodontitis that loosens the teeth. In early periodontitis the teeth become sensitive, start tilting and shifting from their correct positions into wrong positions. This causes a change in the tooth contact positions and malocclusion. Even with treatment, periodontitis is not completely reversible; treatment will only stop further damage. Any delay in treatment can cause irreversible loss of bone and gums and ultimately the need to extract the mobile teeth. Advanced gum disease will also cause a bad odour from your mouth, a condition termed as halitosis.
Gum diseases not only affect your oral health, but they also impact your overall health in a major way. The bacteria responsible for poor gum and periodontal health can travel to other organs of the body via the blood vessels and nerve channels. When these harmful bacteria reach the heart they can cause life threatening diseases like stroke and endocarditis. Periodontitis also increases the risk of brain damage and Alzheimer’s. Studies have proven that poor gum health can worsen blood sugar control in diabetic patients. Bacteria from the gums can also reach the lungs via your throat. This can cause pneumonia and other airway diseases. Research has shown that pregnant women with gum diseases are more likely to have premature birth and low birth weight of babies.
Gum health is also affected by certain other diseases. Poor immunity in HIV patients makes them more susceptible to periodontitis. Similarly, diabetes can worsen oral health; in fact periodontitis is one of the most common complications of diabetes. Certain medicines prescribed for high blood pressure can also cause gum enlargement. Special needs individuals are also at higher risk of poor gum health.
The best way to deal with the issue of gum health is to prevent the disease from starting. Brushing twice daily with a soft tooth brush and fluoridated tooth paste is important, but not enough. It is extremely important to brush using the correct technique, so as to not cause damage to the gums while brushing itself. Alongside, it is necessary to floss all your teeth at least once a day. Rinsing your mouth thoroughly after each meal can help reduce plaque build-up on your teeth. Use of mouthwashes or warm salt water for gargling also helps maintain your gums. Using tooth-picks to remove food stuck in your gums is something to avoid; it may cause your gums to recede. Apart from these homecare routines, it is imperative you visit the nearest dental clinic for a dental check-up at least twice a year. There are many nooks and crannies in your teeth that you may not be able to clean efficiently. In that case, getting a professional dental cleaning, known as Scaling and Polishing is highly recommended. Other gum treatments such as pigmented or black gums treatment, correction of a gummy smile can also be done with simple procedure at the dental clinic.
To free yourself from your gums woes, feel free to get in touch with our doctors at The Maxfac Clinic. We are a super-speciality dental clinic in South Mumbai at Lamington Road, catering to all your dental and maxillofacial surgery needs.
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