How to Keep Your Gums Healthy for Life
As dentists, we actually focus as much on the gums as we do on the teeth. Think about it: all of your teeth sit on your gums. If gums are not healthy, you can bet that your pearly whites will not last long. Good news is that, in theory, you can keep all your teeth for life - no 'catch', you just have to take good care of them every day. Read on to find out more.
When we floss properly, we're tracing the shape of our teeth with the floss and allowing it to go below the gum line. That's the only way to catch any debris that might be trapped under there - you can't reach those areas with a brush, you can't really get it by squirting water or rinsing with water and you can't use a toothpick. Floss is the only thing small enough to really get into the nooks and crannies to help remove food particles. If you're concerned about technique, feel free to book yourself in for an Oral Hygiene Instruction visit at (416) 226-6688 or pair it up with your next cleaning appointment.
Secondly, it is of utmost importance that you not only brush your teeth, but also brush at the gums. When using a soft-bristled brush, gently brush the gums using short strokes. If the gums have been neglected thus far and you're just starting to get into the habit of brushing them, you may feel like this irritates your gums and they might even bleed. This is an early sign of gingivitis (aka gum inflammation). If you keep brushing them every day, twice a day, you will see that the condition improves and even reverses - you will notice that you can brush your gums and they won't become bright red, puffy, feel painful on touch and they wont bleed as easily. If you keep ignoring them, however, the condition will worsen and it could lead to gum recession and eventually loss of teeth in the most serious cases. Of course, since every person is different, don't hesitate to book a specific examination of your gums if they bleed - have our experts look at it and get treatment and/or recommendations on how to improve home care from that consultation.
In terms of professional cleanings and dental check-ups, it's a good idea to have them done at least twice a year - more often if you have gum disease. Regular brushing and flossing is great, but bad habits develop fairly easily and it's easy to miss/forget certain areas when you're 'going through the motions' every day. If there's tartar build-up, it cannot be removed by brushing and flossing alone - you'd need a dental hygienist to remove it. Dental professionals can also help identify the areas you've been missing as well as let you know if we see any potential issues that might come up. We'll look for early signs of gingivitis (amongst other existing problems) and show you how you can improve your home care.
If you're a smoker, you're probably sick of hearing this, but it's not great for your health and it's not great for your oral health. In terms of harming the gums, smokers tend to have greater tartar build-up - which leads to inflamed gums - which, if not treated, can lead to gum disease. Smokers experience greater bone loss compared to non-smokers - so the gums recede and gum pockets develop. If untreated at this stage, it could lead to loss of dentition. Interestingly, when smokers brush and floss, they experience less bleeding than non-smokers - which can give a false sense of security. Unfortunately, this is not because their gums are healthier - rather, they bleed less because of poor blood supply. Here's an article from Colgate, which goes into greater detail about how smoking can harm the gums.