As an uptown OKC dentist, our staff at Shepherd Mall Family Dentistry strives to protect the oral health of our patients. One of the best ways to gain a better understanding of the current state of your oral health is to take a quick look at your gums.
While you use your mouth every day, you probably have no idea how healthy your gums actually are. But a quick look in the mirror can tell you a lot. The appearance of your gums can give you a pretty good indication of the current state of your oral health if you know what to look for.
A few tips that your gums are in good health: they’re a light to medium color of pink (there’s still potential for your gums to be healthy if a little darker depending on your skin color); they feel and look firm; they fit snugly against your teeth; spitting after brushing doesn’t remind you of a candy cane; flossing doesn’t cause feelings of dread or your gums to swell; and sipping hot coco or spooning down some ice cream doesn’t cause a sharp spike of pain.
If you recognize more than a few of the symptoms listed above, odds are your gums aren’t nearly as healthy as you might hope. If your gums are in serious need of a little TLC, know that you’re not alone. Approximately half of all adults 30 and older in the U.S. suffer from some form of gum disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, while misery might love company, you should know that gum disease is no laughing matter.
Poor Gum Health Increases the Risk for Disease
While you’ve probably heard about the dangers of gum disease to the health of your teeth and gums during an appointment to see your uptown OKC dentist, odds are you might not be aware of what gum disease could mean to your overall health as well.
In recent years, a growing amount of research has found compelling links between our oral health and our overall health. Studies have found that individuals who suffer from gum disease and dental decay have a significantly higher risk for developing a range of chronic health conditions that includes everything from heart disease, diabetes, stroke, dementia, arthritis, obesity, and cancer. While researchers still don’t yet fully understand what connects dental disease with these other systemic health issues, it’s become clear that protecting our gum health is paramount to protecting the overall health of our bodies.
As researchers continue to search for evidence of a clear cause and effect relationship between oral health and systemic disease, one theory that many oral health experts advocate does help to explain this mysterious connection.
Researchers hypothesis that cracks that develop in gum tissue as a result of gum disease allow harmful oral bacteria to enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body. As harmful bacteria travel to, say, our joints or arteries, they begin to cause inflammation, which science believes is the root cause for systemic disease in the body. As evidence of this theory, researchers have found oral plaque in other areas of the body in participants linked to studies that support this connection.
Identifying Gum Disease
Unlike a cold, flu, or headache that strikes quickly, gum disease progresses slowly over time. Complicating matters even more is the fact that unlike other illnesses in the body, the majority of oral health problems don’t manifest any symptoms until far along in their development. So while it might be easy to attribute blood in your spit after brushing to flossing too hard or tooth sensitivity to your coffee being too hot, ignoring these signs could be potentially dangerous to not only the long-term health of your teeth, but your overall health as well.
Fortunately, just as you can gain a better understanding of your gum health by knowing what to look for, you can also spot the signs of gum disease more easily if you know how the disease manifests.
Here are a few signs of unhealthy gums you should never ignore:
- They always bleed immediately after brushing or flossing.
- They look and feel red and puffy.
- Your gums have started to recede away from the base of your teeth.
- Your gums are sensitive, and become inflamed or causes you discomfort when you floss, brush, or eat or drink anything hot or cold.
Fortunately, your uptown OKC dentist can help. By scheduling regular exams and cleanings with our staff at Shepherd Mall Family Dentistry, we can spot the signs of gum disease early on while still easily treatable. When treated early on, the effects of gum disease can not only be treated but reversed.
Don’t let gum disease threaten your oral and overall health. Know the signs and take the steps to keep your smile healthy for a lifetime.