September brings the month of National Gum Care, a time to raise awareness for healthy gums everywhere. No matter your age, you should always be striving for great oral care, and this doesn’t just mean your teeth. Your gums are just as important when it comes to maintaining a great smile. As new research develops, we see a rise in medical conditions related to infected gums – such as heart disease, diabetes, pregnancy complications and more – and how preventing gum (periodontal) disease is vital for both your oral and overall health. It is believed that the inflammation caused by bacteria can destroy gum tissue and then invade the bloodstream, eventually affecting other parts of your body. You can help prevent this invasion by taking excellent care of your teeth and gums. Healthy Gums vs. Diseased Gums Do you know what healthy gums look like? Gums should be firm and pink with no bleeding and no discomfort. Signs of bad gums include loose or shifting teeth, chronic bad breath, a bad taste in your mouth, bleeding gums, redness, swelling, pus around teeth and gums, receding gums, and gum tenderness. If you have dentures, they may not fit correctly. If your gums become paler than they usually are, contact your dentist right away. It is important to get treatment at the first sign of gum disease. Preventing Gum Disease You can help take care of your gums by following these guidelines: – Healthy Brushing: Be sure to brush at least twice a day, waiting to brush for at least 30 minutes after your meal (brushing right away can cause corrosion from leftover food). – Flossing Correctly: Floss at least once a day to remove debris between the teeth and near the gums. It is recommended you floss before brushing so your toothbrush can wipe away leftover bacteria and debris. Gently floss between each tooth, using clean sections of floss each time. Avoid snapping the floss down onto the gums. – Seeing Your Dentist: You should receive a dental exam and cleaning every six months if not more often. Notify your dentist if you have concerns about your teeth and gums or you are experiencing pain or discomfort. – Healthy Diet: Consume a regular diet of healthy foods and liquids. More sugar in your diet tends to lead to more lingering and sticky bacteria. Rinse your mouth with water after eating and drinking other beverages. – Avoiding Substances: A great way to help your teeth and gums stay healthy is avoiding tobacco and limiting your alcohol intake. This includes smoking and vaping. Try to avoid drinking too much soda and energy beverages, candies, sugary snacks, and fast food. – Other Tips: Replace your toothbrush every two to three months, depending on the wear. Exercise regularly to increase blood flow and encourage saliva flow. Choose a toothpaste that is best for your dental needs. Treatments for Healthier Gums Even if you haven’t had a cavity in your life, you are still vulnerable to gum disease. If your home dental care isn’t enough, there are alternative treatments to help rid your mouth of infection. These include the following options: – Professional dental cleaning – Scaling and root planing – Pocket reduction – Gum graft – Soft tissue graft – Prescribed medication, toothpaste or mouthwash – Root canal therapy (if needed) These options can help keep you and your smile in optimal health. Your gums are important in keeping your teeth in place. We invite you to consult with our team about what treatment may be best for you. If you have questions or concerns about your gum health, feel free to give our experienced team a call. We will be happy to help you get the gum care you deserve, so reach out today and get your dental health where it deserves to be!