It has long been noted that the health of your gums is linked to the health of your entire body. In fact, one recent study found that patients with gum disease were more likely to suffer serious complications after contracting COVID-19. September is National Gum Month, and many local dentists are taking the opportunity to educate patients on the importance of proper gum care.
Dr. Berdy joined the WJXT Morning Show weekend team to unpack why gum health is so crucial as well as the best ways to avoid gum disease.
Why Gum Health is Especially Important for Oral Hygiene
Gum health is the foundation for overall oral hygiene. When your gums are properly cared for, they protect your teeth and provide a barrier to bacteria. Not only does this prevent dental problems, such as plaque buildup and cavities, it can also help you stay healthier in general.
Various studies have found that oral health is essentially a window to your overall health. So not only can poor oral health point to bigger issues within the mouth, but a lack of oral hygiene can actually affect the entire body.
Similar to other areas of the body, mouths are comprised of bacteria – though most of it is harmless. However, our mouths are the point of entry to reach both the digestive and respiratory tracts, and some of that bacteria can contribute to the development of disease, including endocarditis, cardiovascular disease and most directly, periodontitis, also known as chronic gum disease.
While gum health has always been important, today’s climate makes it that much more crucial. One study notes that those who suffer from gum disease are more likely to experience severe complications if they contract COVID-19, and it even suggests that physicians check incoming COVID patients for gum disease to be prepared for closer monitoring.
Best Practices to Care for Your Gums
The best method to maintain oral health, including healthy gums, is to practice good oral hygiene daily. At Berdy Dental Group we recommend:
- Brushing your teeth twice daily, with toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush to avoid irritation. Plus, be sure to replace your toothbrush at least every three months to avoid bacteria buildup.
- Flossing each day to ensure both a deep clean, and to remove remaining bacteria that can be missed with brushing alone.
- Using mouthwash to rid your mouth of any remaining food particles/bacteria. Consider keeping a travel-size mini mouthwash in your bag, too so that you can quickly rinse your mouth even when you’re on-the-go. The longer food particles sit in your mouth, the worse it is for your gums.
- Incorporating a Water Pik in the process. We recommend using the Water Pik first, and then flossing. Follow this by brushing for 2 minutes, focusing along the gum line as you brush since this is where the germs that cause gum infection hide. Finally, Water Pik again to rinse all the loose debris and germs away. Don’t forget to also clean the top of your tongue, as germs also like to hide there!
Signs of Problems with Your Gums and When to Head to the Dentist
A study published by the American Dental Association found that more than 4 in 10 adults have some form of gum disease – some may not even realize that their symptoms point to this condition.
The most common symptoms to watch for include:
- Constant bad breath
- Swollen gums that are extra red in color
- Sensitive or loose teeth
- Receding gum line
- Bleeding gums
Each of these are reason enough to schedule a dentist appointment, but the most common symptoms that bring patients into Berdy Dental Group are gum swelling and bleeding.
Gum care should be practiced at home each day, but one of the best ways to keep your oral health in top shape is to regularly visit the dentist for cleanings. Not only will this help rid your mouth of extra plaque buildup and get your teeth sparkling, it can show if you are in the early stages of developing gingivitis or gum disease.