Check out your smile. You probably don’t notice them, but your gums are an essential part of the healthy smile you see in the mirror.
Why are gums important?
Your gums consist of pink tissue called gingiva. Covered with a mucous membrane to keep them clean, they provide the sockets that support your teeth. Fibres from the periodontal ligament work with the socket and gum to hold the teeth in place. Gums also help absorb shocks that could damage your teeth and provide a tight barrier to keep bacteria away from tooth roots.
Gum health is essential for healthy teeth. When gums are diseased or damaged, they cannot adequately support and protect teeth. The result is tooth loss.
Gum disease causes and effects
Gum or periodontal disease is a bacterial infection. Your mouth is home to many types of bacteria, and some are actually useful. When the balance between good and bad bacteria is disturbed, often as a result of poor oral hygiene, invasive bacteria can enter causing infection and inflammation.
As your body’s immune system fights the infection, it sends white blood cells to the gums. In the process of fighting off the bacterial infection, the white cells also damage surrounding gum tissue.
The leading cause of adult tooth loss, gum disease has also been tied to serious illnesses including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Respiratory disease
- Premature birth
The good news is there is evidence that restoring gum health may reverse or improve some of these conditions.
Signs of gum disease
The first indication you may have of periodontal disease is bleeding gums when you brush your teeth. Other indicators are gaps between gums and teeth or very low gums that leave teeth exposed. These conditions make it easier for invasive bacteria to attack teeth.
Caring for your gums
Protect gum health with a regular dental care program that includes:
- Daily brushing, flossing, and rinsing
- Proper nutrition
- Regular dental exams
At the first sign of gum disease, a visit to your dentist is in order. Left untreated, gum disease will advance, destroying more gum tissue and causing progressive tooth loss.
Modern dentistry can successfully treat periodontal disease reducing the risk of gum-related tooth loss and associated health problems. Behind every healthy smile is a healthy set of gums.