When it comes to your oral health, taking care of your gums is just as important as tending to your teeth. Many Saskatoon patients seeking oral health services forget to consider the health of their gums. Although easily overlooked, the gums play an important role in the protection of the teeth and underlying bones. It’s true, healthy gums are a vital component of oral health.
The Function of the Gums Runs Deeper than You Think
The gums, or gingiva, are mucosal tissue that surround teeth and cover the upper and lower jaw bones inside the mouth. This soft tissue is firmly attached around the neck of each tooth, providing a protective seal between oral bacteria and the sensitive roots and underlying bone. The gingiva also provides a soft yet supportive bed for the teeth, holding them securely in place and connecting them to the bone of the jaw.
What Healthy Gums Look Like
Have you noticed the appearance of your gums lately? Gums should be firm and should not move or soften when touched. They should not be patchy, pale or white, but relatively uniform in colour; a consistent shade of pink or brown depending on skin pigmentation as determined by ethnicity. Healthy gums are naturally stippled in texture, and against the tongue should feel somewhat like the peel of a citrus fruit.
Gum Care Basics
You can take care of your gums with the same oral health care practices that keep your teeth healthy. Consider incorporating the following gum care basics into your oral health routine:
- Smile at yourself in the mirror daily to check for signs of gingivitis.
- Floss daily, or after each meal.
- Brush daily, positioning the brush along the gumline at a 45-degree angle and using small circular motions to ensure the bristles reach just beneath the gum line where bacteria like to hide.
- Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush gently to avoid gum recession caused by brushing too hard.
- Limit sugary sweets and acidic foods in your diet, and brush after consuming these treats.
- See a dentist regularly for a check-up and cleaning once or twice annually.
Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease
For oral bacteria, a natural gathering place is along the gumline on the surface of the teeth, amidst the plaque and tartar that build up there. Bacterial growth irritates the gum tissue, causing inflammation or redness of the gums known as gingivitis. This early stage of gum disease can be treated and reversed with routine brushing and flossing using proper technique. If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into periodontal disease.
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, occurs when gingivitis worsens and spreads into the deeper layers of gingiva around the root and underlying bone. Weakened, deteriorating gums can cause the teeth to loosen and become susceptible to decay. If left untreated, infection can cause tooth loss and threaten the structural integrity of the entire jaw.
Watch Your Mouth for Signs of Gingivitis and Gum Disease:
- Buildup of tartar along the gumline (hardened plaque that appears yellowish brown)
- Tender or sore gums
- Red or inflamed gums
- Bad breath
- Bleeding gums
- Soft or squishy gums
- Receding gums (gums that pull away from the teeth)
- Sensitive teeth or pain when chewing
- Loose or moving teeth
If you are in Saskatoon and have any of the symptoms of gingivitis or gum disease, the best course of action is to consult your local dentist as soon as possible and seek treatment before the problem worsens. You can also prevent the need for costly dental treatment or dental emergencies by caring for your gums with a proactive, total oral health care approach. Regular brushing and flossing are essential to the prevention of gingivitis and periodontal disease. Healthy gums and healthy teeth go hand in hand!
For gum health and dental care in Saskatoon, contact Acadia Dental at the Centre Mall at 306-664-2626.