Gingivitis - Why Should I Care About the Health of my Gums?
Find out what role your gums play and why it’s so important to keep them healthy
Like many people, you’ve probably been told from a young age to look after your teeth. This is good advice – to stay healthy and strong, your teeth need proper oral care throughout your life. But what about your gums? You don’t hear much about them…but they’re just as important, if not more! Read on to find out why.
Gum health is the gateway to general health
Next to teeth, gums can come across as idle bystanders. But appearances can be deceiving! They are in fact a key player in your oral and overall health . Starting with oral health, gums have a central role. Indeed, this soft and delicate mucosal tissue is what helps support the teeth and protect deeper tissues. When healthy, they are tightly bound to the bone beneath them and form a seal around the neck of the teeth. Without them, teeth and underlying tissue would be a lot more vulnerable .
But gums are also essential for your general heath. As stated in the World Oral Health Report (2003) and supported by further evidence, there is a strong bi-directional relationship between oral and overall health . Wondering how that’s possible? Well think of it this way: when gums are healthy, they form a seal around each tooth, acting as a physical barrier against harmful bacteria. As such, they help prevent these from entering the bloodstream and making their way to other areas of the body where they can cause inflammation, and potentially aggravate or increase the risk of developing systemic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or stroke . See, we weren’t kidding when we said gums were important for your health.
The slippery slope from gingivitis to periodontitis
When gum disease strikes – often as a consequence of plaque build-up  – inflammation affects gums in a number of ways: swelling, tenderness, bleeding during brushing … Overall, gums are weakened, making them less apt at guarding the body against harmful bacteria. That’s why it’s so important to remove plaque and prevent build-up.
If gingivitis, early-stage gum disease, isn’t dealt with, it can progress to periodontitis which involves permanent damage to gum and bone tissue around the teeth . When this happens, professional intervention is required to halt the progression of the disease and prevent tooth loss .
Despite the high stakes, gum disease remains a reality for a lot of people. Statistics show that gingivitis affects between 50% and 90% of adults worldwide depending on its exact definition , while periodontitis affects up to 50%. But enough about stats! From proper oral care to nutrition, there’s lots you can do to help prevent gum disease. Read on for our advice and tips.
What can I do?
TACKLE PLAQUE WITH EFFECTIVE ORAL CARE
When it comes to gum inflammation, you’ll often find that plaque build-up is the culprit . Indeed, the bacteria in plaque produce toxins which irritate gum tissue, causing inflammation. Your best defence is regular plaque removal from all tooth surfaces. All it comes down to is three easy steps: toothbrushing, interdental cleaning and rinsing.
Make sure you brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes. Brushing gently with a soft toothbrush is essential if you want to avoid irritating your gums. Don’t forget to brush along the gum line where food and bacteria often get stuck and form plaque. If your gums feel tender and look inflamed, we recommend using toothpaste and mouthwash from our GUM® PAROEX® range, which is formulated to fight existing plaque and prevent the growth of bacteria.
Cleaning between your teeth should be the next step. Often neglected but oh-so important! Indeed, your interdental spaces are a hot spot for food, bacteria and therefore plaque. There is a variety of tools to help you with this: interdental brushes, rubber interdental picks or floss. Floss is great if you have really tight interdental spaces. If that’s not the case, then we recommend trying interdental brushes or rubber picks as both have been proven to be more effective than floss at removing plaque from between teeth. Picks are super popular for their ease of use and how good they feel – they gently massage your gums! Choose the tool you find most comfortable. What’s more important is that you use it every day!
To finish off, we recommend rinsing with a non-aggressive mouthwash. If you suffer from inflammation, try a mouthwash from our GUM PAROEX range. For more details on how to perfect your oral care routine, check out our video. Don’t forget to visit your oral health practitioner twice a year for a professional cleaning and personalized care.
Stop feeding your plaque and protect your gums
Small changes to your diet can also help you prevent plaque build-up and protect your gums (and teeth). Limiting sugar intake is our main recommendation as sugar is a key element in plaque formation . If you have a sweet tooth and like to snack throughout the day, make sure you brush your teeth afterwards! Eating raw, crunchy fruit and vegetables can help remove plaque from between teeth . Try apples, celery, carrots etc. Vitamin C and other nutrients found in fruit and vegetables can also help protect gums from cellular damage and bacterial infection .
Food supplements such as sugar-free GUM® PerioBalance® can also be beneficial for your gums (and teeth) as they help promote colonization by good bacteria for a healthy oral ecosystem.
Good to know
While plaque remains the main cause of inflammation in a vast majority of cases , a number of lifestyle factors and life events – including smoking, stress, pregnancy and use of certain medication – can also come into play .
Some are within your control and some aren’t. But it’s good to be aware of them and raise any concerns with your dentist or hygienist so he/she can provide appropriate oral care.
LOOK OUT FOR YOUR GUMS AND BODY BY STAYING ON TOP OF PLAQUE
- Healthy gums are essential for a healthy mouth and body. Unhealthy gums increase the risk of developing or aggravating systemic conditions such as diabetes, stroke and heart disease. The better you protect your oral health, the better you protect your overall health.
- Gum disease is often caused by plaque. To prevent build-up and protect your gums against inflammation, take up a 3-step oral care routine and visit your oral health practitioner at least twice a year.
- Plaque tends to accumulate around the gum line and between the teeth where it can easily irritate gums. Bear this in mind when brushing and make sure you clean between your teeth every day!