When it comes to oral care, you probably think mostly about your teeth. Your chompers can be one of the most important parts of your face – after all, a great smile is widely regarded as one of the most desirable features a person can have. Smiling confidently builds trust, conveys happiness, and can portray someone as genuine and open.
But when it comes to taking care of your mouth, those teeth aren’t everything. We’ve written in the past about both your teeth and tongues, but another part of your mouth is pretty critical when it comes to your ongoing oral health: your gums. So in today’s blog, we’re taking a deeper dive into the world of your gums – and discovering why they’re so critical to a happy, healthy mouth.
First things first – what are your gums? Well, the gums (or gingiva) are a layer of tissue connected to both the exposed portion of your teeth and the underlying bone. That pinkish-red gum line brings it all together, surrounding your teeth and forming a seal against plaque and bacteria that could otherwise create big problems.
Because of their tight bond with the bone underneath, your gums help resist the friction of daily traffic within your mouth – from food and drink to foreign objects – and protect the sensitive areas of your tooth that aren’t coated with that sturdy enamel.
When Gums Go Wrong
Gum disease can be incredibly problematic for the ecosystem that exists within your mouth. The early stage of gum disease – marked primarily by inflammation and sensitivity – is known as gingivitis. Full-on gum disease, or periodontitis, is a serious condition that, if left untreated, can result in tooth failure or worse.
Keeping An Eye Out
So if gum disease can cause so much damage, the next question is obvious – how do we prevent it? The best way you can avoid gingivitis and periodontitis is simple: maintain good oral health care. Regular dental exams and cleanings (most insurance companies cover biannual visits), daily brushing and flossing, and eating a diet rich in mouth-friendly foods are all great preventive measures.
But another great thing you can do to avoid the complications that come along with gum disease is to watch out for the warning signs and symptoms. Any big changes in your gums can indicate that something is amiss, such as:
- Color. Your gums most likely are (and should be) a vibrant pink color, often described as “coral pink”. Gums that lean more toward red – or in extreme cases, turn white or blue – can indicate that something is off. Most importantly, consistency in the color of your gums is critical; variations in the normal coloring do occur from person to person in the uniform color of your gums, but if spots or patches pop up suddenly, it’s time to see the dentist.
- Shape & Texture. Your gums should normally be firm, resisting movement and contoured to fit tightly against your upper and lower teeth. Changes in your gums – feeling soft, swollen, or puffy, or gums that aren’t closely fit against your teeth – can indicate that something is wrong and require attention from a professional.
- Sensitivity. It’s normal, especially if you haven’t flossed or brushed in a while, for a bit of blood to appear when you’re resuming your oral care regimen. But your gums should never bleed just from being touched or probed, and excessive bleeding during normal daily cleaning may be a cause for concern.
In general, if you have concerns about changes in the appearance, texture, or feeling of your gums, you should contact your dentist immediately. Gum disease is bad but, caught early, can be effectively treated to avoid serious complications.Read more →