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Gum care is not always the first thought when we think about our oral health. Many of us focus primarily on just our teeth but gum care is just as important. Just like you brush your teeth daily, gum care should be included in your oral hygiene routine. A lack of gum care can lead to gum disease which, in turn, can cause more serious medical conditions.

Harvard Health Publications notes that individuals who suffer from periodontal disease – which can affect the gums – are at a higher risk for health issues such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, pregnancy complications, and chronic respiratory disease. This might seem a little surprising, but in fact, your gums protect the bones of your teeth, which creates a barrier from the spread of bacteria.

Your family dentists here at WhiteWing Dental are ecstatic to celebrate National Gum Care Month this September, so we’ve dedicated an entire article to emphasize the importance of taking care of your gums and the benefits of keeping them healthy.

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What are your gums telling you?

Your gums are a pretty reliable source of information when it comes to understanding your oral health. From their physical appearance to tenderness, there are a number of telltale signs that can indicate you should visit your McAllen dentist at WhiteWing Dental.

Some of the most common signs that indicate gum issues include:

  • Gum irritation/bright, red, and swollen gums
  • Bad taste in your mouth
  • Mouth odor
  • Bleeding when flossing or brushing
  • Receding gums
  • White spots or plaque on the gums
  • Pus in between the teeth or gums
  • A shift in your teeth or a change in the way your teeth fit in your mouth
  • Spaces forming in between teeth

What can cause gum disease?

Poor oral hygiene is the main cause of gum disease but there are a number of other factors – including lifestyle habits –  that may cause problems. Some of the most common behaviors that can lead to oral health issues include:

  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Poor nutrition
  • Lack of dental care
  • Diabetes
  • Certain medication(s)
  • Cancer or cancer treatments
  • Plaque buildup in hard to reach areas such as crooked or overlapping teeth
  • Changes in your hormones (i.e. pregnancy, puberty, & menopause) can increase an individual’s chance of gingivitis

How to Maintain Healthy Gums

One way to take care of your gums is by simply practicing good oral hygiene. Here are a few oral health practices that you and your family should be doing daily:

  • Brushing – Not only do your teeth need attention but your gums do too. Brushing your gums in tiny circular motions will do the trick. However, make sure when brushing your gums, you use a soft bristled brush because a hard bristled brush can cause your gum lines to recede. Also, always remember to brush after meals.
  • Flossing – It is important that you floss between your teeth once a day; usually at the end of the day. Flossing helps you remove particles of food that may have gotten stuck in the crevices around your teeth.
  • Regular Dentist Visits– You should be visiting your dentist every six months. Your dentist can help to catch gum disease in its early stages and stop the spread of the disease. Gum disease can cause permanent damage to your teeth if it is not treated early enough.
  • Mouthwash – To prevent symptoms of gum disease it’s important that you use mouthwash to kill bacteria that can possibly cause gingivitis.
  • Diet – Some foods that are good for healthy gums are fruits, vegetables, vegetable oils, nuts, and omega-3 fatty acids from fish. Cutting back on sugar will also significantly improve your gum health. Eating lean beef can also be beneficial because it is high in zinc, which is known to be an immunity booster that can help fight gum disease.
  • Drink Water – Drinking water can help flush some of the bacteria off your teeth and mouth.
  • Avoid Tobacco– You should avoid cigarettes and other forms of tobacco since these habits can negatively affect your gums.

How do healthy gums benefit you?

Making sure your gums and teeth are healthy means:

  • Fresh smelling breath
  • Lowered risk of inflammation
  • Lowered risk of infection
  • Significantly reduced chance of gingivitis
  • Significantly reduced chances of developing periodontal disease which can cause respiratory infection or cardiovascular disease

And better memory! Did you know that gingivitis can affect your memory? Adults with gingivitis have been shown to perform worse on memory tests and other tests involving cognitive skills.

If you have any questions about your oral hygiene or concerns about the state of your gums, contact our family dentistry in McAllen at (956) 686-5577 or our La Feria office at (956) 797-3131.