It’s easy for us to see the importance of our teeth.
They chew our food. They brighten our smile. We don’t want to lose them.
So most of us try to keep them clean by brushing every day. However, we tend to forget a much more vulnerable and equally important component of our smiles. According to the CDC, nearly half of all Americans over 30 have some type of gum disease.
In this article, we’ll discuss why healthy gums are so important to your teeth and your overall health.
It may begin with just a little bleeding when we floss or a gum that feels sensitive to the touch.
But over time this inflammation grows and spreads through the gums. The gums fill with blood and fluid.
And the bed of flesh on which teeth rely to hold them in place slowly pulls away from the tooth down to the root.
Suddenly, one day, you’re brushing your teeth and you notice that one or more of your teeth doesn’t feel as secure as they used to.
In fact, one of your teeth is actually moving a little.
Oh no! Are you going to lose it? Are the others soon to follow?
Healthy gums help you keep your teeth firm in position.
Ease of Cleaning
When our gums become inflamed, it’s difficult to clean our teeth properly.
Cleaning along the gumline keeps tartar from forming.
Raised and fluid-filled gums harbor bacteria, pressing it against your teeth, causing tooth decay.
On top of this, it may be painful to brush our teeth, so we brush them less often and much less fervor.
Healthy gums make cleaning teeth easier.
After talking about losing our teeth, breath seems a little superficial. But our breath is one of the first things people notice about us.
Bad breath can destroy a conversation. And forget about trying to go out on a date.
You can use breath mints and mouthwash to kill some of the bacteria. But when gums are infected the bacteria’s embedded deep.
At moment’s notice, it’s ready to come out of hiding and ruin your day. Healthy gums mean a fresh and clean smelling breath.
Quality of Life
No one wants to be in pain all the time. It’s hard to eat. We don’t want to talk. We can’t sleep because our mouth’s throbbing.
As periodontal disease (gum disease) progresses, it makes so many joys of life much less enjoyable.
Healthy gums mean we get to live a joyful, quality life longer.
Reduced Dental Care Costs
It’s no big deal. We’re not meant to keep our teeth for our whole lives anyway, right?
We’ll just get dentures when it’s time and be done with it.
First of all, yes, we can keep your teeth our whole life.
Gum disease and tooth decay are a progressive disease. They happen over time. We don’t lose all of our teeth at once.
We’ll go through several stages. Each stage will cost money.
- Dental visits cost more when gum disease is present. A prophylaxis (teeth cleaning) will cost around double what someone with healthy gums pays.
- We may need expensive gum disease treatments to reduce pain and inflammation. In cases of severe gum disease, treatments can cost upwards of $10 thousand. These could include: Tissue regeneration, pocket elimination, laser therapies. If we’re lucky, we’ll just need prescription only antimicrobial wash that may cost around $50.
- We’ll have more cavities throughout our lifetime that will need dental care
- We’ll need procedures to keep teeth as long as we can to prevent bone loss in our jaw.
These costs really add up over a lifetime.
When we compare that to the cost of some good mouth rinse, a pack of floss, regular visits to the dentist plus the 2-3 minute a day that it takes to prevent all this, we hope we’ll make the right choice.
Healthy gums reduce dental care costs.
They’re just gums, right?
We’re not talking about heart disease or diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis or anything like that.
Well, actually we are.
Studies have shown a clear link between the health of our mouths and many devastating diseases.
Here are some study results we all need to know about.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a nationally recognized Center for Excellence, research shows:
- A strong link between oral health and an increased risk of heart disease
- A strong correlation between oral health and diabetes
- A significantly reduced risk in contracting HIV/AIDS through the mouth
- Gum disease has been linked to premature birth
- Gum disease may contribute to endocarditis, inflammation of the heart
- Gum disease has been linked to eating disorders
- Gum disease has been linked to head/neck cancer
There have even been studies demonstrating that one of the primary bacteria present in gum disease is also connected to rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a painful and crippling inflammatory disease.
At one time RA was thought to cause the gum disease, but based on study results, researchers are rethinking that premise and looking at how treating gum disease may reduce the onset and severity of RA.
According to the American Academy of Periodontology, periodontal disease can increase blood sugar, contributing to an increased risk of complications for those with diabetes.
A recent study in the UK found that the same bacteria present on in gum disease was also present in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s.
How would the bacteria get from the mouth to the brain, the joints or the heart?
When we have gum disease bacteria, the gums bleed and we may need invasive procedures to prevent damage. Bacteria then get a free ride through our circulatory system to where ever they want to wreak havoc.
In each of these studies, we cannot definitively say that gum disease causes these conditions, but the link between gum disease and our overall health cannot be denied based upon the evidence.
Healthy gums may contribute to our overall health.
How to Keep Healthy Gums
Given the importance of healthy gums, how can we keep them healthy?
- Rinse your mouth out with water or mouthwash after you eat and drink. Don’t let sugar sit on your teeth and don’t allow bacteria to multiply.
- Floss at least 1X a day. Don’t forget the back of your back teeth.
- Brush your teeth at least 2X a day.
- Change your toothbrush at least once every 3 months. It harbors bacteria.
- Visit the dentist 2X a year.
Contact Doug Lewis Dentistry today to schedule an appointment and get your gums checked.