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What Your Gums Say About Your Current Oral Health

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Keeping Healthy and Strong Teeth
March 30, 2019
National Root Canal Appreciation Day
May 7, 2019

What Your Gums Say About Your Current Oral Health

Your teeth are healthy, but what about your gums? Healthy gums will be pink and firm to the touch. Gums that have changed color recently might have hormonal changes to blame. But, you could have an underlying health condition as well. Make an appointment with Dr. Berry to receive a diagnosis and treatment if necessary. In the meantime, learn some common causes of color changes to your gums!

Gingivitis
Millions of people have a disease and many don’t know it. It’s called gum disease, and it can lead to chronic health problems, partial or complete tooth loss, problems eating or speaking properly or more. Take a look in the mirror at your gums. Are they pink? How about firm to the touch? This is what your gums should be like if they are healthy. However, take note of color changes in your gums, such as your gums being darker red all over or around certain teeth.

This discoloration is likely gingivitis, and it’s your first sign that you are starting to develop gum disease. Where you are in the early stage of gum disease, inflammation will start up around your teeth and will branch outwards until all of your gum tissue is bright red. You may start to notice puffy inflammation or swelling in the gums as well as more frequent bleeding, especially when you floss your teeth. The teeth shouldn’t bleed with flossing. This is a sign that there are oral health issues developing.

Gum Disease 101
We’ve mentioned gingivitis as your mouth’s first sign that gum disease is starting to form. This is a serious inflammatory disease that will lead to gum recession and tooth loss without proper oral health care and dental intervention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 64.7 million American adults have some form of gum disease. Millions more don’t know that the disease is starting to form because it is painless in its early stages. It’s only when it gets to the teeth-falling-out stage that you will be feeling the pain, and by then it is too late for many.

How do you get gum disease in the first place? What are the signs? It all starts with your eating. When you eat, sugars in your food feed mouth bacteria, creating a substance called plaque. That plaque does not get washed down with food or drink, but collects in your mouth, depositing along your gum line. If you look in the mirror, you may even see some of this sticky, transparent film on your teeth. Plaque is an acidic substance. The longer it stays on your teeth, the longer the acids in plaque have to break up your tooth minerals. This creates openings in the teeth where bacteria eats away, creating cavities.

Because plaque is acidic and your gums are sensitive soft tissues in your mouth, the gums try to pull away from plaque that’s not brushed or flossed away. This causes gum recession. With enough recession, the teeth begin to fall out one by one. Once a tooth is lost in one area of the mouth, the gum tissue becomes much weaker, which causes a domino effect of losing teeth. At this stage, you have full-blown gum disease that’s difficult—but not impossible—to treat.

Available Treatments for Your Gums
Millions of people don’t recognize the signs and symptoms of gingivitis (early stage), so they don’t know they need to up their game with oral health habits. If you are in the gingivitis stage or you don’t have gum disease, utilize these oral health habits now:
Brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes at a time, as recommended by the American Dental Association.
Floss your teeth 1-2 times a day, making sure to floss gently up into your gum line and scraping the teeth softly as you go.
Use fluoride toothpaste, dental sealants or fluoride treatments through your dentist to make your teeth stronger and protected from plaque.
Start receiving periodontal treatment on your teeth from your dentist to stop the progression and possibly reverse gum disease.

What We May Do
Gum disease brings tooth loss and loss of strength to your teeth and gums. We want to prevent as much tooth loss as possible and restore your gum integrity and your natural smile. In order to return your smile to good health and functionality, our dentist may recommend one or more of the following dental services:

Deep cleaning – Gum (gingival) tissue may detach or pull away from the teeth due to bacteria and plaque with gum disease. This is why we often provide scaling and root planing treatment to your gum line area. In this area, pockets of bacteria collect, which can cause infection, quicker gum recession and can make chronic conditions (like diabetes) worse. We use scaler tools to pull infection and bacteria out of these gum pockets with medication to heal the area. Enough of these treatments can help reverse the disease.

Periodontal maintenance – You will have your biannual (or more frequent) dental visits for dental cleanings and exams. However, your cleanings may be deeper and your tissues may be monitored differently than a normal cleaning.

Dental implants – When tooth loss has occurred, but only in certain areas of the mouth, we recommend replacing the tooth with a custom-made one. This will restore strength to the area of tooth loss, preventing further loss of the surrounding teeth.

Dental veneers – This is a cosmetic procedure that takes a tiny bit off of the front of your teeth. We replace that area with custom-made porcelain shells that make your smile look perfect. This is a great cosmetic service once your teeth are healthy once more.

Dentures – For severe tooth loss, partial dentures (tooth replacements), dental bridges or full denture sets may be needed.

No matter your oral health situation, we can help! For your consultation, call Mountain Aire Dentistry today at (303) 731-7755!