When we’re thinking of our oral hygiene, we’re focused on the teeth. This makes perfect sense, as their bright white appearance tends to dominate.
But don’t overlook the pink tissue that is around those teeth. While they may look like a wad of Big League Chew at a Yankees game, your gums play a critical role in your oral health. Their job is to protect the tooth roots, which keeps the teeth in your mouth and allows you to keep chomping happily away.
But your gums are dependent upon you to take care of them. If you pay attention with your home dental hygiene, your gums will take care of you. Neglect them at your own peril!
What you’ll end up with if you don’t treat your pink friends with some respect is gum disease. Periodontal disease is the medical term, periodontitis if you want to get downright clinical. It involves infection of the gums that can end up with you having less teeth than the entire cast of Duck Dynasty.
Leave the plaque on the wall
The nice thing about gum disease is that it never has to occur. It’s not like other diseases that suddenly show themselves one day. It all starts with dental plaque, which is the sticky film that forms on your teeth throughout the day. Plaque has lots of bacteria in it. Dental plaque is easy to remove simply by daily brushing and flossing. In fact, a good home dental hygiene program of brushing twice daily for two minutes and flossing once a day is usually enough for most people to never have to deal with gum disease.
This is where you control things. If you’re a cursory, hurried, inattentive brusher plaque can have its way with your mouth. When plaque isn’t removed it hardens into calculus, also known as tartar. Tartar can only be removed by a professional hygienist or dentist.
Here comes periodontitus
This progression isn’t overnight; you will have plenty of signs where your gums are warning you to pay attention. The bacteria in plaque produce toxins that irritate the gums. Irritated gums are not happy gums, and they become red and bleed easily. Plus, the tartar that has formed gradually makes its way below the gumline, leading to more irritation. This irritation is called gingivitis.
You may have let things go, but at this point you can still reverse things with a professional cleaning from our team and more diligent home care. But if you don’t opt for this route, the gum irritation worsens and the gums begin to pull away from the teeth causing pockets to form. These pockets hold all the bacteria from the plaque and that bacteria begin to attack the roots of the teeth. You can see where this is leading — tooth loss and jawbone deterioration.
You’re now in risk of losing some teeth. You’ll need to see us at Gentle Dental just to keep your teeth. We’ll have to do some gum planing and scaling. We may need to prescribe some antibiotics if infection has taken hold. A root canal could be required to save a tooth or teeth.
Ah, but this can be a premonition that never becomes reality. All you have to do is brush and floss and pay attention to your pink friends, the gums. Is it time for your next appointment? Call the team at Gentle Dental, (732) 549-5660, to make your appointment.