Benefits of Healthy gums September 2009
Healthy gums will give you
something to smile about!
I have a friend who has naturally perfect teeth. It drives me to distraction. All my life I have regularly visited the dentist, tried to eat good food, always brushed my teeth, and still I suffer from various problems. My friend, who seems a lot more haphazard in her approach, has never ever had a filling. Gum disease – she doesn’t know what I am talking about.
It is very frustrating, but sadly my friend is in the minority. Most people suffer various problems with their teeth and gums throughout their lives and today as much attention is being focussed on having healthy gums as having healthy teeth.
This is because recently statistics have shown that the level of gum disease here in the UK is incredibly high. It seems around 90% of us suffer from some form of gum disease at varying times in our life. Gum disease, not tooth decay, is the largest single cause of tooth loss.
Basically, our saliva contains million of bacteria which stick to the surfaces of our teeth and multiply quickly to form layers of plaque. Plaque is at first a soft, colourless substance which is difficult to see
until the coating is quite thick and becomes a white layer. It collects on the surfaces of teeth mainly next to the gums and between the teeth. When left, this plaque can build up on and around the teeth causing tooth decay and gum disease.
If plaque is allowed to build up on teeth, toxins produced by these bacteria inflame the gums. When this happens, you will have gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease. As the plaque builds up and the gums become infected, they become red and swollen and may bleed when brushed. As the gums swell, they leave a space or pocket to form beneath the tooth and of course, as the plaque increases, so does the depth of this pocket. This causes the gums to recede exposing more of the tooth and if left untreated, the pocket can become so large that the tooth may loosen and even have to be removed.
And that is just the first stage of gum disease!
The second stage is periodontitis. This is an advanced stage of gum disease where the bacterial plaque destroys the gums and also the soft tissues which support the teeth and attach them to the jaw. When the inflammation reaches the underlying bone, it is called periodontitis.
Periodontal disease can sometimes go unnoticed until it is quite advanced; but there are clear warning signs. These include red, swollen or bleeding gums; bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth; gum recession and teeth moving slightly apart. The teeth can look longer as the gums recede. Loose teeth of course are the final clear indications that you have this disease.
Brushing your teeth.
Yawn! – we have all been told so many times how to brush our teeth and look after our oral hygiene. But how many of us can truthfully admit we have never skimped on brushing our teeth, in the morning late when we are rushing to get out somewhere; in the evening after a nice party. Brushing our teeth is so easy to do in a slaphappy manner and feel we have done the job!
But when you think about the problems caused by gum disease, it makes spending that extra time on oral hygiene really really important. If you can get into a regular routine suddenly it will all become easier and seem to take a lot less time.
Most dentists now offer a hygienist service; this was unknown when I was a child. A regular visit to the hygienist is as important as a regular visit to the dentist. The hygienist will help direct you on the best way to look after your teeth and gums, from the choice of the right toothbrush (soft is often better) to the use of floss or the new interdental brushes that are so much easier to handle.
Hygienists can also advise you on all the products you can buy such as mouthwashes, sprays and dental gels.
There are a range of new products coming out all the time such as the new Corsodyl Daily gum and tooth Paste. This has been developed specifically to look after your gums as well as your teeth; it doesn’t taste anything like normal toothpaste but it is very pleasant. The new Colgate 360 toothbrush has been designed to remove plaque from gums as well as teeth and the company has also worked in partnership with the British Dental Association to produce a number of specific guides to help look after teeth and gums. The British Dental Health Foundation has lots of information about oral hygiene including information about hygienists.
It is never too late to start looking after your gums – and having a really healthy mouth will definitely give you something to smile about!
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