When you consider your smile, you likely think about your teeth and what you can do to keep them healthy and looking great. But, while gums may not be as prominent as your pearly whites, they are every bit just as important.
February is Gum Disease Awareness Month, a time to give much-needed attention to gum health. Gum disease (also called periodontal disease) is not only an epidemic in our country — afflicting fifty percent of Americans over the age of 30 and an astonishing 70 percent over the age of 65 — it has potentially devastating effects on your appearance and health.
Gums anchor your teeth into place. Periodontal disease, not cavities, is the most common reason adults lose their teeth. And it may contribute to or worsen serious systemic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Read on to learn a few ways you can help keep your gums in excellent shape. As a gum infection may begin with few or no symptoms, regular dental examinations are critical. Call Family Dental of Spokane Valley of Spokane Valley, WA for a checkup at 509-850-3217.
Be Consistent about Oral Hygiene at Home
You’re rushed in the morning. You’re tired at night. Sometimes it’s tempting to skip the dental care — or at least rush through it. But creating a good routine at home and sticking to it will pay off in the long run with disease-free gums.
Brushing twice per day and flossing daily prevent the proliferation of bacteria and buildup of plaque, both which may lead to periodontal disease and its characteristic inflammation.
If you have children, enforcing proper brushing and flossing is doubly important. It helps keep their teeth and gums healthy and instills in them the importance of meticulous oral hygiene, a lesson that will stay with them for life.
Visit Us Every Six Months
It’s not good enough to just visit the dentist when you begin to notice swelling, tenderness, bleeding, or other signs of gum infection. It’s likely that your disease has been going on for a while by the time obvious symptoms occur.
At your dental checkup, Dr. Ellsworth will carefully examine your gums. He will be able to detect early signs of a problem before you’ve noticed anything. And the earlier gum disease treatment starts, the less invasive it will be and the better the outcome.
We don’t have to tell you that smoking is bad for your health. It, and smokeless tobacco use, wrecks havoc throughout your body, causing cancer, lung disease, and other serious conditions. Smoking even affects your gums. Tobacco users are much more likely to develop periodontal problems than non users, likely because smokers are more susceptible to infection overall. Plus, their disease has been shown to be resistant to treatment.
Know Your Medications
Many medications can affect gum health. Some decrease the flow of cleansing saliva in your mouth, which can lead to an overabundance of bacteria and infection of the gums. Others may cause swelling or other gum problems directly.
It’s important to be aware of the effects the drugs you take may have on gum health. Not so you can stop taking them (which, of course, you should NEVER do unless directed by a doctor), but so you can be extra vigilant in your oral care.
Eat Leafy Greens
Green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach are low in calories, packed with nutrients, and great for your health overall. They are an excellent source of calcium, which benefits your bones and pearly whites. Plus they contain folic acid. This nutrient promotes periodontal health, including in pregnant women, who are susceptible to hormone-induced gum problems called “pregnancy gingivitis.”
Saute them with garlic, throw them into soups, get creative with salads. Leafy greens are not just good for you, they are versatile and delicious.
Destress Your Life
It’s not always possible to get rid of stress in your life, but you can learn to manage it well. Deep-breathing exercises, yoga, long walks, an hour alone with a good book — or whatever helps make you feel calm and relaxed — just do it.
Destressing isn’t just about making you feel better (though it will certainly do that). Chronic stress may make your body more vulnerable to infection, including periodontal disease. It can also trigger a teeth grinding and clenching habit, which may wear away at your teeth and cause damage to your gums.
Be good to your gums, and you increase your chances for excellent dental and overall health. Essential to keeping gum disease at bay are dental cleanings and exams every six months.
Request an appointment with Family Dental of Spokane Valley through our convenient online form. Or call our Spokane Valley, WA office at 509-850-3217.