Did you know that one of the most important parts of your body (when it comes to staying healthy) is your gums? Believe it or not, a problem that begins in your gums can actually end up in your heart or even your prostate.
Think of the gums as your mouth’s epidermis. A functional and effective barrier to the outside world that can let infection in if compromised. As such, keeping them healthy is an everyday job and just brushing is not always enough. Discussed below are various gum problems, what they mean, and how to prevent them (or fix them).
What Your Gums Do
The gums are mucosal tissue that lies over your mandible. They provide a seal around the teeth, and are tightly bound to the underlying bone, so as to avoid friction from food in the mouth. Healthy gums are a light to coral pink, and may be slightly translucent. Color changes can often signal infection, as can bleeding or change in texture. Because the color of the gums can vary between ethnicities, ensuring that the color is uniform is more important than what the color itself is.
The gums, however, can accumulate plaque and bacteria. These pathogens often nestle in between the gums and the teeth and accumulate gradually or suddenly. Dental inflammation is actually an immune system response to this infection, meaning it is attempting to fight it off. Recent research has shown that individuals who have inflammation of the gums (or gingivitis) are up to seven times more at risk for a heart attack or stroke.
This can be a compounded problem for pregnant women, as they are at particularly increased risk for gingivitis during their pregnancy. It has been shown that women who experience gingivitis are at higher risk for preterm delivery.
Your dentist can often times diagnose diabetes just by taking a look at your gums, as there is a particular gum appearance that has just now been associated with the disease. Getting your gums under control will also help you manage your diabetes symptoms, and it may even help you prevent contracting it in the first place.
Finally, unhealthy gums actually tend to recede. While this is associated with other diseases, it also looks unattractive and can give you the appearance of larger than normal teeth. Once they recede, there is no change that they will reemerge on their own and surgical procedures are rarely recommended.
The first and most obvious step is to go see your dentist. They will be able to diagnose any problems early and give you clear and effective advice. Dentist appointments can often take months to make, however, so you should be exercising good preventative care in the first place.
Brush two to three times a day using a toothbrush that isn’t too hard and a toothpaste that is effective at battling plaque. Floss on a daily basis, and invest in a mouthwash that is effective against gingivitis. Finally, visit the dentist on a regular basis (at least twice a year). You’ll be thankful you did.