Oral health tends to focus on teeth. We all make sure our teeth are white, straight, and beautiful. Shining teeth means that you have a healthy mouth, yes? 

You're right! But you're missing another critical component for oral health - your gums. It's essential that you pay attention to your gums to get that complete oral health. 

Gums play a vital role in overall health, and it is prevalent to see people ignoring their gums. Did you know if you take care of your gums in your everyday oral routine, you can reduce the risk of many diseases such as:

  • Diabetes 
  • Dementia 
  • Pregnancy complications  

Think of gums as protection for your pearly bright and white teeth as they protect your teeth from bacterias and germs that will eat away your bones and cause tooth loss. If you don't take care of your gums, you can run into significant problems like periodontal disease. 

What is Periodontal Disease, you ask? 

Periodontal Disease is a severe gum infection that damages gums and can destroy the jawbone. Periodontitis is quite common but fairly preventable and is a risk factor for heart and lung disease.  

What are the symptoms? 

Periodontitis initially starts with a plaque composed mainly of bacteria on your gums. If not treated timely, it can eventually advance in severe periodontitis. The later symptoms you should keep an eye out for are:

  • Swollen or puffy gums
  • Bright red, dusky red, or purplish gums
  • Gums that feel tender when touched
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Pink-tinged toothbrush after brushing
  • Spitting out blood when brushing or flossing your teeth
  • Bad breath

So what do I do to solve this problem?

The best way to prevent periodontitis is to follow a good oral health routine, one that you begin early and practice consistently throughout life.

Good oral hygiene. That means brushing your teeth for two minutes at least twice daily — in the morning and before going to bed — and flossing at least once a day. Flossing before you brush allows you to clean away the loosened food particles and bacteria. Good oral hygiene prevents the development of an environment around your teeth that is favorable to specific bacteria that cause periodontal disease.

Regular dental visits. See your dentist or dental hygienist regularly for cleanings, usually every six to 12 months. If you have risk factors that increase your chance of developing periodontitis — such as having a dry mouth, taking certain medications, or smoking — you may need professional cleaning more often.