Gum Health – An Ongoing Priority
Take this time to renew your focus on good gum health
Because dental practices across the UK are closed for all but urgent emergency advice, a lot of focus is being placed on keeping teeth healthy with the intention of avoiding the need for treatment. This is important of course, but we should not forget to take similar care of our gums as well.
Whilst a problem with a tooth can come on quite suddenly, especially in the case of a breakage, gum problems tend to happen more gradually and so can be managed or even reversed if caught early enough.
In an ideal world, your gums would be monitored during your six monthly examinations at The Dental Centre Bedford, but as we are currently closed, it is more important than ever that preventing gum disease is high on your list of priorities.
What is gum disease?
There are two predominant types of gum disease; gingivitis and periodontitis. The former is the milder stage and is more easily treated whereas the latter is more serious and may require invasive treatment such as root planing. At this stage, the bacteria will have accumulated below the gum line, quite possibly on the roots of the teeth and even the surrounding jaw bone. At this latter stage, tooth loss is a real possibility so preventative care is extremely important to help avoid it.
It is also worth noting that there seems to be an increasing number of scientific studies that are concluding that poor gum health may be a factor in serious health issues such as heart disease and strokes. So taking care of your gums may be of greater benefit than you think!
How to look after your gums
Many of the same rules for looking after your teeth also apply to your gums. The most obvious ‘basics’ are brushing and flossing. There are ways that these can be improved though to help keep your gums clean and healthy.
As we mentioned in our earlier blog post, it is not only your teeth that should be brushed but your gums too. You can gently brush the surface of your gums with the toothbrush, though take care not to brush too hard or this may cause some discomfort. One of the most important things that you can do though is to make sure that the bristles of the brush can reach into the gum recesses and remove food and bacteria from there. To do this, you simply need to angle the bristles towards the gums; a simple but important adjustment.
There are also some useful toothpastes which are designed to help with gum health and these often include sodium bicarbonate in their ingredients. You might wish to look into changing to one of these types of toothpastes to help you keep your gums healthier, but perhaps seek guidance from your dentist or hygienist to discuss which may be best for you.
Food and bacteria gets trapped between our teeth and this is often where gingivitis starts. It is important that you use floss correctly though as ‘sawing’ between the teeth is not only fairly ineffective but could also cause soreness of the gums. To use it efficiently, you should move the floss gently from side to side and up and down, allowing it to access the recesses at the side of the teeth. We think you might be surprised at what can be removed using this method. If the floss is smelly after you’ve finished, this will help you to understand what is actually happening when food debris is left in your mouth, even after brushing.
Usually, we recommend that our Bedford patients have their teeth professionally cleaned by our hygienist every six months. This procedure, known as a ‘scale and polish’ is a great and non invasive way of keeping your gums in good condition. Unfortunately, as you will be aware, this is currently not possible due to the Coronavirus restrictions that are in place. Because of this, we urge you to take your gum health seriously and follow the advice above. For those of you who don’t have regular scale and polishes, this could be a good time to consider doing so once the restrictions are lifted. The treatment is pain-free and affordable and would be a great way to help you get your oral health back on track following this difficult period.
Following a session with the hygienist, we think that you will be pleasantly surprised at how much better your teeth look and feel in general, as well as knowing that you now have cleaner, healthier gums.
Our Bedford dental clinic is still closed and will be until such a time that we are able to re-open safely. Unfortunately we do not know when this will be or what procedures can be carried out when we do, but of course we will keep you informed. In the meantime, please look after your teeth and gums as well as you can.
In the unfortunate situation that you require emergency treatment, please call The Dental Centre Bedford on our usual number of 01234 819868 where you will be offered advice on what steps to take next.