September is National Gum Care Month. If you have been neglecting your gums, now is the perfect time to rededicate yourself to healthy oral care.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease occurs when plaque and tartar are allowed to build up on the teeth and in between the gums. Plaque is a sticky, bacteria-laden film that accumulates on teeth and feeds off of the sugars and starches in the foods you consume. If plaque is not removed quickly and regularly, it can turn into tartar, a hard mineral buildup that can discolor and erode teeth and gums. As the bacteria in plaque and tartar proliferate, they cause inflammation and infection. Left untreated, gum disease can erode bone and connective tissue, leading to tooth loss and other medical problems.
How Can Gum Disease Hurt Me?
Gum disease impacts more than just your mouth. Because bacteria and infection can enter the bloodstream through the gums, it can impact the health of your entire body. Potential dangers of periodontal disease include:
- Loose teeth
- Bleeding gums
- Pain and discomfort when chewing
- Receding gumlines
- Increased risk of heart and lung disease
- Decreased performance on memory tests
- Increased difficulty managing blood sugar
- Greater risk of delivering preterm, low birth weight babies
How Can I Prevent Gum Disease?
The first and most important step in preventing gum disease is practicing healthy oral care habits. Regular dental visits can catch an infection early, before too much damage is done. To protect yourself from gum disease:
- Brush with fluoride toothpaste after every meal.
- Floss or use a dental water jet daily to remove plaque below the gumline.
- Use mouthwash to kill bacteria and strengthen teeth.
- Visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet that is high in nutrients and low in sugar.
- Do not smoke or use tobacco.
It is never too late to start taking care of your gums. If you are ready to celebrate National Gum Care Month by visiting a general dentist in Palm Harbor, FL, contact the office of Dr. Dan Knellinger today at (727) 228-8000.