Tag Archive for: gums

Our gums are the foundation of our mouth and teeth. We only get one set, and they need to last our whole life– but do you know the signs of potential problems with your gums? Gum disease affects a large portion of the population in the USA alone. It is also a top dental issue among many patients.

It’s time to take gum disease seriously. So what’s the solution?

Acting first by identifying the problem and receiving the right care can help prevent and treat existing conditions before they become worse.

So, what are the signs and symptoms of gum disease?

1. Bleeding gums

This is probably one of the most common and obvious signs of gum disease. It’s important not to scrub your teeth too hard while brushing, but to still be effective while caring for your gums. However, if your gums are still bleeding despite being gentle then it’s important to mention this to your dental health care professional.

2. Tender or sore gums

Your gums being tender or sore can be a sign that your gums are in need of care and attention. Gums in general should not feel bruised, or hurt while you are chewing.

3. Swollen and inflamed gums

This can often be a symptom of infection or even some trauma to the gum tissue.

4. Receding gums

This happens when the gum tissue begins to pull away from around the teeth and expose the root structure. As a result, this can make your teeth appear larger due to the loss of gum tissue.

5. Loss of teeth or loose teeth

Teeth falling out or becoming loose can be the result of gum disease. If gums are not strong enough to hold your teeth, then teeth will begin to become loose and may come out on their own. This can affect the overall structure of your mouth once you start to lose teeth.

6. Painful chewing

When it’s painful to chew and there has been no trauma to your mouth, it can be an indicator of underlying gum issues.

If any of these signs or symptoms sound familiar, it’s time to see your dental health care professional and find out if you have gum disease.

Gums must be vulnerable then?

Your gums, like many other parts of your body, can be subject to illness. Periodontitis, the formal name for gum disease, if left untreated, will affect the structure and stability of your teeth. Without gums, what supports the teeth in the mouth?

As mentioned your gum tissue can be subject to illness, but it can also link to other illnesses in your body. In fact, gum disease has been linked to chronic and life-threatening illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, premature birth, Alzheimer’s disease, and even cancer. These all have the potential to impact a person if left untreated, just like gum disease does. While this list of overall health conditions seems intense, the list does not end there. In fact, periodontal/gum health is even linked to the health of your skin.

Ultimately the goal is to have a whole health outlook. The entire body benefits from a healthy oral cavity and gum tissue.

So what can a patient do to prevent gum disease?

Being aware is key, and looking at your gum tissue to monitor it at home. Healthy gums are pink and fit tightly and firmly around the tooth. Look at where the gum tissue surrounds the tooth, and see if it looks like your tooth is longer in appearance.

Good oral hygiene care at home is a key component to maintaining healthy gum tissue but also to reduce the risk of gum disease. Brushing twice daily for two minutes each time with a soft or extra soft toothbrush (electric or manual) helps to condition the gum tissue to a healthy status. Flossing daily (with string floss, floss picks, or water flossers) can help to reduce bacteria under and between the gum tissue and the tooth.

These two activities are like exercise for your gum tissue and will help to maintain things long term.

Visit Dentists for Extra Help

Regular dental visits can help to monitor the condition of your teeth and gum health. X-rays that are taken routinely to help to monitor bone levels surrounding the tooth structure and in turn can help monitor gum tissue levels.

In addition to x-rays, your dental hygienist and dentist will measure your gum levels to ensure they are supporting your teeth properly. These measurements can also assist in evaluating how successful you are with your oral hygiene home care routine.

Being mindful of your overall health is important as we mentioned because if other health conditions are not well-maintained or under the control of a physician, these things can directly correlate to unhealthy gum tissue.

Your dentist and dental hygienist are experts in caring for gum health, and in caring for YOU. The first step is to talk to your dental health care professionals about any observations or questions you have about your gum health.

Learn more about what Dr. Wilmer can do for your continued dental health, make an appointment today to prevent gum disease, and enjoy a healthy smile forever!

I get these questions all the time. For a long time, dentistry and general healthcare have been treated as separate entities. I am here to guide you and help you to see how the health of your body relies on good dental hygiene. When dentists and hygienists examine patients, we are able to screen you for key overall health conditions based on your mouth health and refer to a healthcare provider who can help you further.

Common Question About Dental Hygiene and Overall Health

“Brushing my teeth can really make me healthier? How can my teeth affect my body?”

Gum disease is something that affects at least 75% of the general population, but what is gum disease? Most people assume that if they had gum disease it would hurt, but in reality, it’s considered a silent and deadly disease. People often ignore the early signs and symptoms, including bleeding every time you brush, bad breath that won’t go away, red swollen gums, loose teeth, pus between the gums and teeth, and even sores in the mouth. Many of you are probably thinking, “I would notice that!” Sometimes it is subtle… until it’s not, and we have to talk about treatment to stabilize your mouth. What’s more concerning is where else that bacteria can go.

The bacteria that causes gum disease can travel through the bloodstream throughout your body and affect other organs and functions. Blood pumps throughout your entire body and your heart is the engine that runs the car. Your heart is one of the most crucial organs, as it allows oxygen and blood to travel throughout the body and keep you running. The inflammation in the gums in the mouth influences inflammation in the heart and plaque build-up in the heart, which can lead to cardiovascular disease or even a stroke. The best way to avoid complications from gum disease is to treat it and then maintain a stable mouth, in addition to seeing your physician regularly for blood work and dental hygiene check-ups.

Diabetes is something that can also link directly to mouth health and oral bacteria. One of the common issues patients with diabetes have is the inability to heal quickly and well. Therefore, people with diabetes are more likely to develop infections, such as gum disease. Gum disease is considered a complication of diabetes (especially uncontrolled diabetes) and diabetes can be difficult to control when gum disease and infection are present, putting patients at an increased risk for diabetic complications.

There’s no bones about it! Osteoporosis can be linked to oral health too! All jokes aside, we examine the bones in your jaw and how they influence your ability to keep your teeth. Over time osteoporosis can affect the density of the bone in your body, including your jaw bones. If the density of the jaw bones decreases enough, you can end up losing teeth.

So who can gum disease really effect?

Virtually, everyone. If it seems like I have already given you enough incentive to take care of your mouth, take a deep breath, because I’m not done yet!

Men with gum disease are more likely than women to develop gum disease AND certain types of cancers. They are 49% more likely to develop kidney cancer, 54% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, and 30% more likely to develop blood cancers than men without gum disease.  Gum disease in men can also affect prostate health and cause impotence.

Women, you’re not off the hook either. Gum disease can occur with hormonal changes during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, and after menopause, putting women at a higher risk for breast cancer, heart disease (the leading cause for death in women in the U.S.), diabetes, pregnancy complications, and osteoporosis. Women with gum disease have a 3-5 times greater chance of pre-term birth, which often means a low birth weight for the baby. Pregnant women also have a higher risk for cavities, gum disease development, and even development of pregnancy tumors (which are not cancerous). Babies are perfect and wonderful and worth every second of everything we go through to get them… but they sure do a number on the body!

dental hygiene The saying “you are what you eat,” applies to your mouth as much as the rest of your body. The food and drink you consume directly affect the mouth and, more specifically, the teeth. Eating disorders can significantly affect your oral health. Often times when we do our exams, we see early signs of eating disorders or severe acid reflux wearing away the tooth structure. Bulimia is a condition where someone eats and then vomits up the food. This results in acid from the stomach sitting on the teeth and wearing off the enamel, the hard structure that protects teeth from significant wear and cavities. Anorexia, where someone eats very little, is also destructive. It can deprive the teeth and gums of nutrients they need to stay strong. Our goal as dentists and hygienists is to help guide you on a path to treat these diseases, help prevent the long-term damage, and to repair some of the physical damage that may have already occurred.

Oh yes, there’s more. In addition, people who have gum disease and a history of lung problems can actually aspirate oral bacteria into their lungs and cause infections like pneumonia! There are also links between oral health and Alzheimer’s, dementia, and HIV. Early signs of HIV often manifest in the mouth first, which is one reason why oral cancer screenings are so important. An increase in gum disease bacteria can potentially increase the risk for development of cognitive impairments associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

As you can see, there are so many reasons that dental hygiene is important. So now you know – brushing your teeth CAN really make you healthier, because dental health and general health are not separate entities. They have a symbiotic relationship. We don’t treat just your teeth. We treat you as a whole person.

Begin Your Journey to Whole Body Health with a Trusted Dentist in Richmond, VA

At the Cosmetic and Laser Dental Spa of Richmond, we believe in treating your body as a whole. We want to help you fix the root cause of your issues, not just the symptoms. Book an appointment to get started today, or contact us with any other questions you have.