Don't Forget about Gum Health!
While we often stress the importance of taking good care of your teeth, it is also very important to consider the health of your gums. As the soft tissue that protects your bones from bacteria, your gums carry quite the responsibility. Should they become irritated, they hold a lot of sway with what goes on in the rest of your body. Not only can gingivitis and periodontal disease wreak havoc on your gums, but poor gum health has also been related to a number of other ailments.
Many have written about the increased risk of respiratory infections in individuals with periodontal disease, including bronchitis, pneumonia, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The Academy of General Dentistry has even made connections between periodontal infection and complications such as heart disease and strokes. Researchers have also shown that more than 90% of all systemic diseases (such as diabetes, leukemia, kidney disease, etc.) have oral manifestations.
Unfortunately, according to the American Dental Hygienists' Association, nearly 75% of Americans have some form of gum disease and may not be aware of it, which is a likely contributing factor to many of the health challenges we face. That means that if you're reading this, there is a really good chance that your gums need some TLC. Here are a few things you can do to get your gums in tip-top shape to keep yourself healthier and happier.
- Brush your teeth. Brushing after meals is also a really good idea. Give it a full 2 to 3 minutes, and be sure to brush your gums a bit as well -- just not too hard.
- Floss daily. It's important to remove bits of food from those places your brush can't reach. The plaque that builds there is a major cause of gingivitis, which, as we've seen, can lead to much bigger problems.
- Eat healthy. Just like the rest of your body, your gums need nutrition to do their job well. They're especially fond of vitamins A and C.
- Cut the tobacco. Obviously, smokeless tobacco causes immediate harm to the gums and contributes to receding gum lines and other complications. Smoking cigarettes and cigars also take a toll on your gums, not to mention what they do to the rest of your body.
- Try a gum stimulator. You can add this handy tool to your oral health arsenal in your next trip to the drugstore. It uses a rubber tip to help clean in between the teeth while stimulating your gums for better circulation.
- Schedule regular checkups. The best way to stay on top of gum care is to have them regularly examined by a dental professional who knows how to look for the early signs of periodontal disease.
Good gum health translates directly into your good health! Follow these steps to maintaing healthy gums, and let us know when you're ready to schedule your checkup. Until then, keep smiling.