Gum Health and Overall Health

Consider oral health a reflection of your whole health.

Issues with gum health may indicate larger problems in our overall health. Poor gum health has been linked to many diseases, showing that taking good care of your teeth and gums is very important to your well-being.

What is Gum Disease?

Your teeth have lots of bacteria and some of these bacteria, namely plaque, will build up on your teeth. When plaque builds up on the teeth along the gum line, it will slowly break down the tooth and infect the gums. This breakdown and infection lead to gum disease and decaying teeth. The first stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. You will know you have gingivitis because your gums will be red, swollen, sensitive, and bleed easily.

Fortunately, gingivitis is reversible! However, if gingivitis is not addressed, it will develop into periodontal disease. This disease affects the bones that your teeth are attached to.

Periodontal disease will destroy the bones in the mouth along with the teeth. If you experience periodontitis, you will always have bad breath, sensitive and red gums, gums that bleed easily, retracting gums, and loose teeth. If you have periodontal disease, your teeth may need to be removed. This disease is uncomfortable and serious to your overall health.

How Does Gum Health Affect Your Overall Health?

Gum health not only a reflection of your oral hygiene, but it is also linked to your health. A common sickness that may be caused by poor oral health is endocarditis. Endocarditis is an infection in the heart that occurs when bacteria from an area of the body, such as the mouth, gets into the bloodstream and damages the inner lining of the heart.

Many diseases will also have an effect on gum health. Diabetes weakens people’s immune systems, causing them to be more susceptible to gum disease. HIV/AIDS, Osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s diseases are all sicknesses that negatively impact the mouth and put the gums at risk.

Along with the many ways the body will impact the mouth and vice versa, many medications also affect oral health. Decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers, and antidepressants can affect how much saliva your mouth produces. Saliva is a very important part of a healthy functioning mouth. Saliva sweeps away food as well as counteracts acids that bacteria create.

Saliva is an important part of keeping bacteria at bay in the mouth.

If you have been diagnosed with sickness or are taking a new medication, it is important to let your dentist know. They will be able to create a treatment plan for you that will keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Benefits of Good Gum Health

Good dental health will help you be more comfortable later in life and will help your whole body remain in good health. Gum disease is not comfortable, it leads to sensitive teeth, uncomfortable gums, and will lead to infection in the bones of your mouth. Good teeth and healthy gums can be easy to maintain!

How to Maintain Good Gum Health

There are multiple ways to avoid gum infection and maintain good oral health. The first step to healthy teeth and gums is at home. Daily practices that will keep your smile dazzling and your mouth healthy are:

Brush Twice a Day

Brushing once in the morning and once at night will keep your breath fresh and bad bacteria from multiplying out of control. We recommend you brush your teeth for about two minutes each time. Brushing will also keep your gums clean and healthy. When brushing, try to brush at a slight angle so that the bristles brush up against the gums. This action will help remove bacteria and food. Replace your toothbrush every three to four months or when the bristles begin to bend.

Floss

This is a crucial aspect of good health. Flossing removes food and bacteria from between the teeth, an area that your toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing may make your gums bleed at first but regular practice should help toughen up your gums and keep the gums healthy.

Use Fluoride Toothpaste or Mouthwash.

Fluoride helps to reinforce your teeth and helps prevent tooth decay. Adding fluoride to an element of your daily oral care routine will help keep your teeth strong.

Don’t Smoke

Smoking is very bad for your teeth. Smoking will reduce saliva production, increase your chances of oral cancer, reduces blood circulation to the gums, greatly increase your chance of gum disease, weaken your immune system, and lessen your tasting and smelling ability. There are many negative side effects of smoking that will greatly impact your oral health in the long run. If you smoke, your chances of oral disease and tooth removal go up significantly. A healthy way to maintain the integrity of your oral bones and gum health is to not smoke.

Eat Healthily

The foods you eat largely impact your teeth. Eating a lot of sugar will increase the bacteria in your mouth, causing you to have bad breath and, over time, will assist in the breaking down of the teeth and gums. Surgery foods should be limited and it is always helpful to brush your teeth after indulging. Healthy foods are good for your body and therefore are good for your teeth. Eat healthily and limit snacking in between meals.

Along with these healthy at-home practices, it is important to seek out professional help in keeping your gums in good condition. Some practices to keep up on include:

Regular Teeth Cleanings

Professional teeth cleanings will allow your dentist to develop an understanding of your unique oral health. Regular visits will allow a base of x-rays and documents to track the health of your gums. Regular checkups every six months will also keep plaque levels down. A portion of each teeth cleaning will include the removal of plaque. This is a very important aspect of gum health as plaque is the cause of gum disease. To reduce your chances of gum disease, bi-annual checkups will be crucial. You’ll get to leave your cleaning with smooth, healthy teeth and gums!

Fluoride Treatment

Professional teeth cleanings paired with a regular fluoride treatment will help strengthen your teeth and keep your gums healthy. This treatment will require a professional grade of fluoride to be applied to your teeth. The fluoride will soak into the teeth and give them an extra boost against harming bacteria. Healthy teeth not only keep your gums healthy but will also play a part in maintaining a healthy body.

Oral Cancer Screening

A healthy part of any oral checkup is a cancer screening. Whether or not you smoke, it is important to have your mouth and lymph nodes checked for cancer. Oral cancer can be caused by many factors and it is important to catch any signs early on. An oral cancer screening does not take long and our staff is very thorough. Oral cancer will develop in the gums as a sore or mark that does not go away. Oral cancer can spread and damage the rest of your body so it is important to catch quickly. You can perform your own examinations at home but having a professional perform a screening will give you peace of mind and help catch anything you may have missed. Our staff has training and experience in performing screenings, you can trust us to examine your mouth carefully.

Restorative Work

Whether it’s a broken crown from a previous root canal or a chipped tooth, it is important to get restorative work down quickly. Bacteria will quickly get into any cracks or holes in teeth and begin to break down the tooth. This decay will negatively impact the gums and irritate them.

Taking care of your teeth is an investment in your well-being. Make sure to practice good oral care at home and meet with your dentist twice a year. If you are looking to improve your oral care or want to learn more about the effects of the gums on your whole health, search for a “dentist near me”. Or if you are in the Alexandria area, give us a call at (703) 836-7000, we would be happy to hear from you and schedule any necessary appointments!

FAQs

Can an infection in your gums make you sick?

Yes. Bacteria that affects the gums can spread to the cheeks, throat, tongue, jaw, and facial bones. In the case of an abscess, which starts as either a cavity or gum/tooth injection. An abscess is a painful infection that leads to pus and inflamed surrounding tissues. An abscess will need to be surgically drained. If it ruptures on its own it can cause further infection or cause bacteria to get into the bloodstream. Oral abscesses can cause nausea, vomiting, sweating, and fever. It is very important to maintain healthy oral practices so you do not have to put the rest of your body at risk from improper oral health care.

How does dental health affect overall health?

Oral health has a direct impact on your overall health. Your oral health and body health have a direct impact on each other. Disease and medications can lower your immune system or impact your oral function. This will leave your gums open to infection. Your oral health can also lead to problems with your overall health. The bacteria in your mouth can enter your bloodstream and affect your heart. Infections in the gums can also spread, causing discomfort and irritation in the surrounding tissues and bones.

What health problems cause gum disease?

Many health problems can cause gum disease. A common condition for many Americans today is diabetes. Diabetes lowers the immune system and causes bacteria in the mouth to grow more rampant. An increase in bacteria will negatively affect your gum health. Many other illnesses that weaken the immune system or require medication that affects oral health will impact the health of your mouth. That is why it is so important for you to notify your dentist when there is a change in your health. You and your dentist will work together to keep your teeth and gums safe and healthy.

What role does oral health play in your health status?

Oral health plays a big part in your health status. It is important to understand how the different systems of your body affect each other. When you are not eating well, your breath will smell bad and you may experience a sour taste in your mouth. This is similar to when you are sick. When your immune system is weakened, the bacteria in your mouth will have an easier time multiplying and affecting your mouth. It is important to undergo professional teeth-cleanings and check-ups to ensure you have good gum health. Poor gum health could be an indicator of a more serious health condition, like HIV/AIDS or Diabetes.

Are bad teeth bad for your health?

Yes. Unhealthy, decaying teeth are bad for your health. Decaying teeth can spread infection into your gums and facial bones. Serious infections can make you physically sick until they are treated and heal. Good oral care is a simple step to keeping you healthy. Practice good hygiene at home and visit your dentist regularly.

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