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For many people, the idea of a healthy mouth conjures images of gleaming pearly whites. But no matter how beautiful your teeth are, if your gums aren’t healthy, you could be putting yourself at risk for a slew of health ailments.

Studies show that people with gum disease are more likely to have other chronic inflammatory conditions than people with healthy gums. This includes things like diabetes and cardiovascular disease and even Alzheimer’s. Fortunately, being informed about the different types of gum diseases as well as what symptoms to look out for can help keep you healthy. Read on to learn more.

Types of Gum Disease

Put simply, gum disease is an inflammation of the gum line. As inflammation progresses, the bone that surrounds and supports your teeth can be affected too. There are two types of gum disease—gingivitis and, more severely, periodontitis.

Gingivitis

What is gingivitis? Gingivitis is a mild form of periodontal disease.

Gingivitis symptoms: Gingivitis causes the gums to become red and swollen. You may find your gum bleeds easily as well. Although you may experience discoloration and bleeding, gingivitis isn’t typically painful or uncomfortable.

Gingivitis causes: Gingivitis is typically caused by inadequate oral hygiene. Aging, diabetes, genetic predisposition, hormones, puberty, smoking, stress, and substance abuse can also cause gingivitis.

Periodontitis

What is periodontitis? Periodontitis is advanced gingivitis. Over time, plaque can spread and grow below the gum line and toxins are produced by the bacteria, which leads to gum irritation. These toxins also stimulate a chronic inflammatory response, which can cause the body to essentially attack itself. As a result, the tissues and bone that support the teeth are broken down and destroyed. As periodontitis progresses, the gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets that are prone to infection. This can ultimately lead to tooth loss.

Periodontitis symptoms: Red, tender, and bleeding gums.

Periodontitis causes: If gingivitis is left untreated, it can advance to periodontitis.

3 Ways to Prevent Gum Disease

With a good oral hygiene, you can prevent gum disease. These three steps will help you get started.

1. Proper Brushing

Fighting gum disease starts with proper brushing. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush that isn’t too big to fit in the small crevices of your mouth. For best results, brush your teeth with your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against your gumline. Use short and gentle back-and-forth strokes on each tooth. Make sure to brush all areas of your mouth and brush or at least two minutes—don’t forget your tongue! It’s important to replace your toothbrush regularly too since toothbrushes can harbor bacteria. For good measure, replace your toothbrush every three months

2. Proper Flossing

Proper flossing can help clean plaque from the areas in your mouth where your toothbrush can’t reach. Aim to floss once a day, preferably after you’ve had your full day of meals. To floss properly, take enough floss to wrap around both middle fingers with enough slack in the middle to reach all areas of your mouth. Use an up-and-down motion to slide the floss in between each tooth.

3. Routine Dentist Visits

Sometimes proper brushing and flossing isn’t enough, which is why it’s important to schedule regular trips to your dentist. A professional cleaning will help remove tartar and plaque buildup from your teeth and can even help reverse gingivitis if it hasn’t progressed.

Your Gums Could Be Trying to Tell You Something Else, Too

Beyond gum disease, certain unusual symptoms gums may show can be indicative of other underlying health issues. Diabetes , for example, can reduce the body’s resistance to infection and make it difficult to control blood sugar. High blood sugar can also adversely affect your gums and lead to gum disease. To protect your gums, make sure you keep your blood sugar levels as close to normal as you possibly can. Brush your teeth after each meal and schedule regular trips to your dentist.

Sjögren’s syndrome affects nearly four million Americans and is another disease that can increase the risk of gum disease.  With Sjögren’s syndrome, an individual’s immune system wrongly attacks tear ducts and salivary glands. Not only does the lead to chronic dry eye and dry mouth, but the lack of saliva can promote bacteria in the mouth, making you more susceptible to gum disease.

Fight Gum Disease and Get Your Impeccable Smile

At Impeccable Smiles, we believe in healthy smiles, happy bodies, healthy lives! We understand how important your oral health is in connection with your overall health. Which is why we offer a variety of dental treatments and procedures to keep your mouth healthy and the rest of your body too. If you’d like to learn more about us or want to schedule an appointment, contact us today.