Dental tips provided by Burnaby Dentists at North Burnaby Dental Group.
Are your gums firm and pink? Do they bleed when you brush or floss? Are they ever tender or swollen? Many people have no idea that the state of their gums is often an indicator, not just of the state of their oral health, but also of their overall health. Recent research, for example, has identified a link between gum disease and heart disease, along with other health problems, as the bacteria associated with gum disease can enter your bloodstream and cause serious complications. Millions of people in Canada have gum disease and aren’t aware of it. What should you be looking out for, and what can you do to prevent gum disease?
Incredibly, 7 out of 10 Canadians will develop gum disease at some time in their lives. It is the most common dental issue, and it can progress quite painlessly until it becomes a real problem. It begins when plaque adheres at and below the visible edge of your gums. If plaque is not removed every day by brushing and flossing, it hardens into tartar, and promotes a bacterial infection where it attaches to your teeth. In these early stages, gum disease is known as gingivitis.
At this point, your gums may be a bit red, but you may not even notice anything at all. As gingivitis gets more serious, tiny pockets of infection begin to form. Your gums may be puffy and bleed a little when you brush, but it is known as a “silent” disease, as it is not painful and is often undetectable to the average person. Over time however, the infection destroys the gum tissue, and if left, you may be at risk of losing one or more teeth. In addition to causing serious problems in your mouth, research by the American Academy of Periodontology has shown that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease. One study found that the presence of common problems in the mouth, including gum disease, was as good a predictor of heart disease as cholesterol levels.
The following factors increase your risk:
- Poor dental hygiene. It is vitally important to brush and floss every day, and to have regular dentist checkups.
- Smoking cigarettes is a major contributor. Nicotine reduces blood flow to the gums, making smokers very prone to periodontal disease.
- Lack of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in the diet. Vitamin C deficiency is a major contributor to periodontal disease. A lack of zinc, selenium, vitamin A and vitamin E also increases your risk.
- A high sugar intake. Sugar is effectively a fertilizer for bacteria and it weakens your immune system, allowing infections to flourish. Where at all possible, avoid foods containing sugar and white flour.
Prevention is always better than a cure. The following remedies will contribute to keeping your gums and the rest of your body healthy:
- Eat lots of vegetables. Try to have as wide a variety of vegetables as you can; preferably raw. Fruit is important too but it is higher in sugar, therefore try to limit fruit intake to two servings per day.
- Green tea can protect your gums against infection, as it has been shown to have a direct anti-inflammatory effect on the gums.
- It is essential to keep your teeth and gums clean. Brush your teeth properly at least twice a day and floss at least once every 24 hours. See your dentist regularly, as they may be able to detect problems before you do.
If your gums appear to be receding, if they have changed colour recently, or if they are swollen, tender, or have developed a tendency to bleed, please see your dentist promptly. While potentially a serious problem, gum disease is treatable, and with the proper care, it need not ever be an issue for you.
If you have questions or concerns about gum disease or any other oral issues, please feel free to speak to any one of the dentists at North Burnaby Dental.
Additional articles are available from Burnaby Dentists at North Burnaby Dental Group.