Your gum health and total body health are connected.

In the US, almost one in two adults aged 30 and older have periodontal or gum disease. Of these individuals, almost a third suffer from moderate periodontitis. Another 8.5% have severe gum disease.

Unfortunately, these are the advanced stages that have the highest risk of tooth loss. In fact, even early-stage gingivitis can already lead to mouth pain and discomfort.

This alone should already make you realize how important healthy gums are.

Gums that are in great condition, however, can do more than just prevent the early loss of your pearly whites. They can also prevent jawbone loss, and possibly even hypertension.

Read on to learn how keeping your gums healthy can keep your body healthy as well.

Healthy Gums: Key to Keeping Your Pearly Whites

The gums, or the gingiva, are the soft tissue that encases your teeth, teeth roots, and the bones of your jaw. It acts like a seal and protective layer against disease-causing bacteria. More than that, it’s the supportive structure of the teeth that keeps them in place.

Without the gums, bacteria and food debris would easily find their way into the deeper parts of your teeth. Keep in mind that the oral cavity is home to as many as 700 bacterial species, many of which are the “bad” kind.

Once there, the bacteria would cause the teeth’s entire structure to break down. As a result, the teeth would become unstable and loose, and ultimately, they would detach from the jawbone.

A similar process occurs with gum disease. After all, the most common reason behind this condition is infection. In most cases, poor oral hygiene is to blame, as it gives rise to dental plaque formation.

Dental Plaque and Gum Disease

Dental plaque is the see-through, sticky film that forms on the surface of the teeth. It may be translucent at first, but it becomes visible and detectable within 12 hours. Also, the longer the plaque stays on the teeth, the greater its chances of hardening into tartar.

Tartar not only stains the teeth but irritates the gums too. This irritation causes inflammation, which in turn, often leads to bleeding gums. Note that it can take just five days for gingivitis to cause inflamed gums.

When your gums become swollen, you’re likely to feel pain and have a hard time chewing. You may also notice a bad taste in your mouth that doesn’t seem to go away. Halitosis, or bad breath, may also develop due to gum disease.

What the Health of Your Gums Can Say About Your Overall Health

Periodontitis has shown to raise the risk of developing hypertension by 22% to 49%. Untreated gum disease can also trigger the immune system to become “hyperactive”. This may then cause your body to always go on “defense” mode at the smallest things.

While that sounds okay, it’s not—it may put you at risk of allergic reactions that you’re not even supposed to have. Your immune system may think that every little thing that enters your body is an allergen. Worse, you may develop autoimmune disorders, wherein your body attacks even healthy cells.

Untreated gum disease can also pave the way for bacteria to enter the bloodstream. Researchers say that, over time, this can result in damaged heart and brain blood vessels.

Self-care Tips to Maintain the Optimal Health of Your Gums

As you can see, there’s no denying the link between healthy gums and overall health. That’s why it’s of utmost importance to keep your gums in tip-top condition.

That said, don’t forget to brush and floss your teeth twice a day. Make sure to also use an ADA-approved mouthwash.

Aside from the basics, here are a few other at-home and self-care tips for better gum health.

Limit your intake of sweets.

People in the United States drink up to 50 gallons of sugar-packed beverages each year. This is why such drinks have become the main source of added sugars in the U.S. diet.

The thing is, the bacteria in your mouth love sugar as much as you may love it. When these microorganisms “feed” on sugars, they release acid by-products.

These are the acids that attack the teeth’s enamel and the sensitive gum tissues. They can even keep up their assault for up to 20 minutes after you’ve finished eating or drinking!

Excessive intake of sugar also has a strong correlation with chronic diseases. Obesity, heart disease, diabetes—these are only some of what you can develop if you eat too much sugar. Researchers even say that sugary drinks can raise the risks of cancer development.

As such, it’s best to skip sugary food and drinks like cakes, candies, sodas, and energy drinks as much as you can. You don’t have to completely ban them from your diet, but you’d want to reduce their intake.

Get more vitamins into your diet.

Vitamin C plays a big role in building and repairing the body’s connective tissues. It helps prevent and reduce tissue inflammation, including that which affects the gums. Moreover, it facilitates and speeds up the body’s regeneration and recovery.

Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, peppers, and spinach are all great Vitamin C sources. Citrus fruits, as packed as they are with this vitamin, can be a little too acidic. You can still eat them, but as with sweets, only do so from time to time.

As for Vitamin D, it helps boost the mineral density of the bones. It also improves the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Apart from the sun, you can get it from fatty fish, such as tuna and mackerel, and portobello mushrooms.

Speaking of which, don’t forget calcium, which, aside from milk and cheese, is also in soy-based milk and tofu. Greens like cabbage and kale are also rich in this mineral. Beans, nuts, legumes, and fish with soft bones, such as salmon and sardines, are also great sources.

Put your dentist on speed dial.

Or at the very least, visit your dentist at least twice a year for comprehensive check-ups.

Granted, brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash all help keep gum disease at bay. However, they don’t 100% protect you against it—some plaque can be so stubborn that it can stay on your teeth even after brushing.

A perfect example is if you fail or forget to hit the two-minute brushing mark. Studies found that brushing for two minutes can get rid of 26% more plaque than what brushing for 45 seconds can.

Now, while this practice removes more bacteria-filled film, it’s not foolproof. Meaning, some plaque may still be hiding in the crevices of your teeth and gums. Unless your dentist performs a deep-clean of your teeth and gums, this plaque can turn into tartar.

Besides, if your dentist can see you every six months, they can spot the signs of gingivitis right away. From there, they can plan out the necessary gum treatment to prevent it from progressing.

Don’t let gum disease take your pearly whites away

One of the last things you want to happen is to become one of the 178 million U.S. adults who have lost a permanent tooth. It’s also worth noting that about 40 million U.S. adults are completely toothless. In many of these individuals, untreated tooth decay and gum disease are to blame.

Keeping your pearly whites for as long as possible is only one of the many benefits of having healthy gums. However, that should be enough reason to shower them with the TLC that they deserve.

Ready to fight off gum disease with everything you’ve got? Then please know that we here at Duvall Dental Center can help! Please feel free to get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to answer any dental health question you have.