But it is oh-so-much more serious than that.
Gum disease can have a huge impact on other aspects of your health.
The bacteria from a gum infection can enter your bloodstream and travel to other major organs in your body, where new infections can begin. Research supports the idea that mouth bacteria may indeed contribute to the development of other issues like heart disease, risk for stroke, even preterm labor.
Gum disease can also pose a serious threat to someone whose health is already in a precarious position due to diabetes, osteoporosis, or respiratory diseases.
To discover if you are at risk for gum disease ask yourself:
- Do your gums ever bleed?
- Do you have any loose teeth?
- Are your gums receding (do your teeth look longer)?
- Do your smoke or use tobacco products?
- Has it been longer than two years since a dentist has seen you?
- How often do you floss?
- Do you suffer from diabetes, heart disease, high levels of stress, osteoporosis, osteopenia?
- Have any of your family members been diagnosed with gum disease?
Take the answers to these questions to your dentist and you will find out what your gum disease risk factor is.
Gum Disease is Preventable
Harmful bacteria found in the colorless sticky film that collects on teeth causes plaque. Plaque can build up on your teeth, where it will start to irritate your gums and cause them to bleed.
If dental plaque isn’t removed by good hygiene, it is left to stay on the tooth enamel, and causes the gum tissue and connective tissue of the tooth to be destroyed. This loosens up the tooth (gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss).
To prevent gum disease, you should to do two things:
1. See your dentist and/or dental hygienist on a regular basis and follow their instructions.
2. Practice good dental hygiene by brushing your teeth at least twice a day (preferably after meals) and floss at least once a day.
Many experts believe flossing is actually more important than brushing. If your teeth are too close together to floss easily, try a different type of floss. It comes in different thicknesses, and there’s even a ribbon floss available.
Make sure the head of your toothbrush isn’t too big to get to the sides of your back teeth. Some people like the brushes with the curved handles because the angle can make it easier to reach those elusive molars.
My dental hygienist recommended the Sonicare electric toothbrush as a way to reduce plaque, and it seems to work very well – my dentist has reduced the frequency of my visits.
Other Suggestions for Prevention
If you already have gingivitis (gum inflammation) or if your dentist has told you you have “pockets” – try massaging plain baking soda (the non-aluminum kind, please) into your gums each night after brushing. This makes your gum tissue less hospitable to those unfriendly amoebic bacteria.
If your gums tend to bleed when you brush, you may not be getting enough vitamin C.
CoQ10 (ubiquinol) is very helpful for prevention and treatment of gum disease – highly recommended especially if periodontal problems run in your family.
Your dental health is an important part of keeping your body free of disease. Make it a point to care for your mouth as if your life depends upon how healthy it is, because it just very well be the case.