Everyone it seems recognises the importance of good health for their teeth. As such we will regularly brush and floss our teeth to remove any plaque or food debris and will do everything we can to ensure they remain looking straight and white. The reason for this is that we can see our teeth, and if someone wants to have a great smile, it’s by ensuring their teeth look as good as possible that they can achieve this.
However while having nice straight teeth is indeed important, it is also important not to miss out on something else equally important – the gums. For while you may not see the gums when you smile, they are what hold your teeth in place and if your gums start to deteriorate it can be highly ageing (when someone is ‘long in the tooth’ it’s actually because their gums have receded thus exposing more of their teeth) and can eventually lead to the loss of your teeth. Furthermore, improving the health of your gums is also crucial to improving your overall health in general and staying well. This is because bacteria can cling to your gums just as it can cling to your teeth and this bacteria can then damage your health in many ways. If you have a mouth full of bacteria it will mean that your immune system is under a constant barrage as it is forced to deal with the steady flow of germs. For this reason, poor oral hygiene has been connected to higher incidence of cancer, heart attack and stroke.
Looking after your gums then is of dire importance, so it’s highly crucial that you take the effort to do so. Here we will look at what precisely looking after your gums entails and how you can improve your gum health. A lot of these things will also affect your health in other ways.
Brush your gums and your teeth: When you brush your teeth it’s important that you don’t only brush the teeth themselves, but also the gums, your tongue and the roof of your mouth. All these are places where bacteria can collect and are commonly forgotten by many people.
But not too hard: However don’t brush too hard on your gums either and if you are constantly causing them to bleed then this could leave them susceptible to infection and means they won’t be able to do their job properly. Get a toothbrush that is gentle on the gums and just give them a light scrubbing as you do your teeth.
Floss: Flossing is crucial to dental hygiene and collects a lot of the bacteria that you simply can’t reach with a toothbrush. These bacteria live in between the teeth and only by flossing is it possible to reach them.
Use a mouth wash: Look for a mouthwash containing fluoride. Fluoride mouthwash is designed to kill off bacteria and it can reach all the areas that a toothbrush can’t. If you don’t currently have a mouthwash, then rinsing your mouth with a mixture of toothpaste and water can make a could stop-gap until you find some.
Choose your toothpaste: Choosing your toothpaste carefully is important to good oral hygiene and particularly for the gums. Some people believe that fluoride is actually damaging in toothpaste, though the general view is that it is efficient and effective for killing off bacteria. Changing toothpastes from time to time however is an important way to ‘shock’ the mouth back into action and many people find that this is a great way to improve oral health noticeably – this is because it allows you to benefit from the different advantages that come from a different blend of toothpaste, and because it prevents bacteria from becoming immune.
Drink lots of water: Drinking water is a great way to wash out the mouth and to ensure that you keep your own saliva running. Saliva is also disinfectant and is the body’s natural way of cleaning out bacteria, so by encouraging it to flow you can keep your mouth far healthier – while the water itself prevents foodstuffs from resting too long on your gums or teeth.
Eat fibre: Fibre is similarly a great way to clean your teeth and gums and actually scrapes and brushes the teeth as you eat it. Things like apple skin are a great source of fibre and have a range of other health benefits too.
Eat vitamins and minerals: Vitamins and minerals are crucial for the health of your body as a whole and things like vitamins E are necessary to repair wounds and cuts. By maintaining a balanced diet high in both then, it is possible to ensure that your gums and the rest of your body remains healthy and well.
Avoid sugary foods: Sugary foods are on the other hand to be avoided where possible as they provide the microscopic colonies of bacteria that make up plaque with energy that they can use to sustain themselves, and because sugar is corrosive in its own right. Particularly bad are those sugary foods that can get stuck between the teeth or to the gums such as candy or toffee. If you do eat sugary foods – and of course sometimes you are going to – be aware of the effects it’s having on your teeth and then react accordingly by brushing after or at least washing your mouth with some water.
Stop smoking: Many lifestyle choices can damage your gums, but none quite to the same degree as smoking which will stain your teeth yellow too and increase your chances of developing tumours in your mouth. Smoking is very bad for oral hygiene and a quick way to age yourself by several years.
Visit the dentist: Going to the dentist regularly is a very important way to look after your gums. They will spot early signs of gum disease or receding gums and will be able to suggest the correct course of action to prevent loss of teeth or extensive gum damage. They can also help to maintain your gums through a by-product of various other techniques. For instance if your gums are misaligned then getting them straightened by a dental surgeon can slow down receding gums.