When aiming to keep your teeth healthy, you probably focus on taking good care of your teeth themselves. You brush, you avoid sugary drinks, and you visit the dentist regularly. But there's another part of your mouth that plays a big role in dental health -- your gums. If your gums are not healthy, your teeth will soon become unhealthy, too. Good tooth health starts with good gum health. Here's a closer look.
How does gum health affect tooth health?
If oral bacteria are allowed to proliferate, they will infect the gums and cause a condition called gingivitis. This starts as a little gum soreness and swelling, but over time, the condition becomes more serious, eventually leading to a more progressed form of gum disease known as periodontitis. This can affect the dental ligaments, which hold the teeth into the jaw. Once periodontitis sets in, the tooth may become loose in their sockets. They may eventually fall out completely.
The same bacteria that cause gum disease also cause tooth decay. So, when you have gum disease, your teeth are more prone to decay than when your gums are healthy.
How can you tell if your gums are healthy?
If your gums bleed when you brush or floss, you probably have some degree of gum disease. Other symptoms include redness in the gums, swelling, tenderness, and the appearance of "pockets" where your teeth meet your gums.
How do you treat gum disease?
If you notice signs of gum disease, you need to take action to treat it quickly before your teeth start feeling the effects, too. Start by kicking your oral hygiene into high gear. Brush after every single meal, and make sure you focus on the areas where your teeth meet your gums. This will help remove plaque, the residue that contains oral bacteria, from the gumline. Also, rinse your mouth with antiseptic mouthwash twice per day, and floss between your teeth daily.
If your gum disease symptoms don't ease up within a week or so, reach out to your dentist. He or she may recommend an antibiotic gel or a deep cleaning to help rid your mouth of the oral bacteria. Don't put off treatment -- if you wait, you may end up needing some fillings and crowns rather than just gum disease treatment.
Keeping your gums healthy will go a long way towards keeping your teeth healthy, too! Talk to a dentist like Rupp and Grabowski Family Dentistry to learn more.