Unhealthy Gums and What it Means for Your Oral Health
When it comes to oral health, a lot of the focus seems to center around the teeth. While it is a crucial part of proper oral health care, this is not the only thing you need to take care of. Your gums are just as important.
No matter how straight or white your teeth are, if your gums are not healthy then your overall oral health isn’t good!
Gum diseases are more common than you would think and not even those with a good set of teeth are immune from them. Since unhealthy gums are usually painless, it is often too late until you realize that you suffer from gum disease. Don’t wait until that happens. Educating yourself about proper gum care is the first step to combating unhealthy gums and for better oral health.
What Do Healthy Gums Look Like?
Maintaining a good oral hygiene is one of the first steps to preventing and treating gum disease. With so many hype surrounding teeth whitening products, it shifts the focus towards the superficial level of oral health care and away from the most basic elements, such as your gums. But in order for you to achieve healthy teeth, you need to start by healthy gums.
Bad gums can lead to loss of tooth, if you are unable to prevent the problem at its earliest stages. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to reverse the condition and know how to get healthy gums again. With the modern technology available to oral health care providers nowadays, this is no impossible task.
The first sign of healthy gums is that it is firm and pink. It should be not white or red. With clean hands, you can glide your fingers along your gums to feel it is firm. If you feel no pain when pressing onto your gums, then you have nothing to worry about.
Another sign of a healthy gum is when your teeth are sturdy and solid in its place. Adult teeth should be sturdy enough and does not wiggle in place. Otherwise, it could be sign that you have a gum disease. If anything is loose, it is important that you consult your dentist about it.
A healthy gum is also associated with a neutral-smelling breath.
While there are plenty of products such as mouthwash and mints that are designed to make your breath pleasant, if you have healthy gums, your breath should smell just fine even without using any of these. Look closely into any unpleasant smell on your breath. When there is bad breath, it is a sign that there are pockets in your gums that is giving room for bacterial growth.
Finally, a healthy gum should have no blood when you brush or floss it. The next time you brush your teeth, look in the mirror and examine your gums closely. If there is blood, no matter how small the amount is (and especially if this is a recurring pattern), you need to have your gums looked at. The plaque buildup on your gums is the primary reason for gingivitis and other types of gum problem.
If you have no idea what a healthy gum is, you can look at healthy gums color. You can look at pictures of healthy gums online. This will give you a more accurate picture of how your gums should look like.
10 Signs of Unhealthy Gums
There are a number of reasons why gum disease happens but identifying the signs is just as important. The worst thing about gum disease is that it is often silent. In some cases, you won’t even see the symptoms until such a point wherein the gum disease has progressed onto the advanced stages.
In between your visits to your dentist, do you really pay attention to how healthy your gum is? Unless you might suffer from toothache, visiting the dentist might be last on your list of priorities! These warning signs should serve as your indicator that you need to pay more attention to gum health.
The following are the list of symptoms that you need to know so you can protect against disease on your gums:
1 – Redness in your gums
What color is your gum? This is one of the first things that you need to look at if you want to ensure your gums are healthy.
Redness is the tell-tale sign of gum problem. As mentioned above, healthy gums should be pink in color and firm to touch. If your gums are red, it could be an indicator that you have gingivitis. This problem can be caused by the buildup of plaque, which can in turn cause infection or redness to appear.
2 – Painful gums
Any type of contact on your gums should be painless, if it’s healthy. When you feel some type of pain, no matter how minor the pain is, it could indicate that you have gum problem. Again, the pain might be due to the infection on your gums. Inflamed gums are painful to touch.
3 – Swollen gums
Is there swelling in your gums? The swelling can be due to the presence of bacteria that has resulted in an infection on your gums. The presence of plaque is most likely to form at the base of the tooth and especially along the gum line.
Aside from checking your gums in the mirror, it is important to use your fingers to feel your gums. Make sure your hands are clean when you do this. Otherwise, you could introduce bacteria to your gums when you check it to ensure that it is firm (or soft).
4 – Bleeding gums
Do your gums bleed? This is another tell-tale sign that you have a serious gum problem.
In some cases, the bleeding is only minor. Even so, this is still a cause for concern. This is an important reminder, especially if you have been seeing blood on your gums when you brush your teeth or floss it. Depending on what extent the problem is, you could fix this problem by improving your brushing routine. You can also discuss your concerns about your bleeding gums with your dentist, especially if this has occurred more than once.
5 – Receding gums
Receding gums is one of the most overlooked signs of unhealthy gums. Again, when your gum is firm, it helps to keep the tooth in place. But when the gum is unhealthy, it causes the gums to recede and make the teeth look longer.
If you spot any significant change on your gums, it could be a sign that you have or are developing a gum disease. This is why it is important to do regular check on your teeth and gums as part of your oral maintenance. That way, you will know when there are any changes on your teeth and become aware of the signs of receding gums when they happen.
6 – Persistent bad breath
Bad breath is an indicator of poor oral health. But when it comes to gum disease, bad breath can also indicate that there is a problem with your gums. According to the NHS, bad breath is quite common (about one in four people suffer from it). A huge percentage of those who suffer from bad breath do so because of gum disease, and they are not even aware of it.
It is common for food to get stuck on your teeth, particularly in between them. If you are unable to remove those trapped food, they can promote the growth of bacteria inside your mouth. If you notice bad breath, you might want to look into your gum health.
7 – Metallic taste in your mouth
Have you ever experienced that metallic taste in your mouth? This could be tied to the fact that your gums are bleeding. That metallic taste that you experience could be from the blood on your gums. In some cases, you are not always aware of the bleeding unless you brush your teeth, floss, or use a mouth rinse. If you notice that metallic taste, it is important to check your gum if there is bleeding.
8 – Pus in your gums
If there is pus formation on your gums and teeth, this is a good indicator that your gum is in trouble. The presence of pus indicates that there is bacterial formation in your gums. The pus might not be visible right away, but you know it is there when there is swelling and inflammation on your gums. You can check it in the mirror and visually inspect your gums. Another technique is to use your fingers to feel your gums. If there is swelling but it is soft to touch, that is when you know there is pus in your gums.
9 – Excess saliva
Saliva is a natural part of your mouth and oral health. It is easy to overlook something as common as your saliva, but it also plays a vital role in your oral health. Saliva helps to fight off germs and bad breath in your mouth. But it is also important when it comes to swallowing and tasting food that you eat.
But when there is too much saliva, it can be bad for your oral health. Excess saliva can cause bacteria to grow inside your mouth and make it more prone to gum disease.
10 – Mouth sore
Do you suffer from mouth sores on a regular basis? This is something that you have to think about more closely, especially if you want to ensure that you can keep your gums healthy. There are several causes of mouth sores such as biting your cheek or lip, brushing your teeth too hard, or burning your mouth. But when the cause of your mouth sore is none of these then it can be an indicator you should look at your gum more closely.
11 – Change in the fit of teeth or dentures
If there are any changes to the way your teeth and dentures fit, it might be time to check your gums. Your teeth should be intact and sturdy in place. The only way that changes is when your gums have become loose or if you suffer from receding gums. In any of these situations, you need to take proper care of your gums so that you can also protect the integrity of your teeth and/or dentures.
12 – Any changes to your bite
If your teeth have moved or there is a change in the fit of your dentures, then it can affect your bite. Both of these factors should be looked into if you want to promote better gum and oral health. At the same time, any changes to your bite can have an impact to your lifestyle as it can change how you eat and the way you talk.
If any or a combination of these signs are present, then you can guarantee that your gum health is compromised. It is important that you do something about your gums as soon as the first symptoms show up. This is how you can ensure that you can reverse the damage and you can salvage your gum and oral health.
Pictures of Unhealthy Gums
To give you a visual idea of how unhealthy gums look like, check out these images:
Pictures of Healthy Gums
These are a few examples of pictures of healthy gums so you have an idea on what to strive for.
Who’s at Risk for Gum Disease?
There are several factors that can contribute to an individual developing gum disease. According to experts, the main cause for gum disease is plaque. But other factors can also contribute that would make other people more prone to developing gum disease than others.
Age is one of these risk factors. According to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 70% of Americans who are over the age of 65 suffer from gum disease (periodontitis). The overall statistics for this type of disease also show a trend of older people acquiring this disease. While this isn’t designed to be a sweeping generalization, it can indicate that age can be a contributing factor.
Smoking or tobacco use is also another type of risk factor. Smoking has been linked to a variety of diseases and health problems. You can add gum disease to that long list. Indeed, smoking and tobacco use can facilitate in the progression of gum disease.
Genetic factors can also be looked into when you are suffering from gum disease. People who’ve had history of gum disease in their family should undergo a genetic test to see if they are prone to periodontal disease. And if you are aware of your family’s history, it is recommended that you implement aggressive oral care habits.
The habit of clenching or grinding your teeth (known as bruxism) can also be a factor in the development of gum disease. Whenever you grind your teeth, it applies excess force on the tissues surrounding your teeth and around the gum line. This added pressure can cause the gums to weaken at a faster rate than it normally does as you age. If you think that this is what is causing your gum problem, you need to see an expert to get your teeth grinding habits fixed.
Other factors that you might not expect could contribute to unhealthy gums include poor nutrition, obesity, stress, and certain types of medications. When it comes to stress, experts believe that it can weaken your immune system. Once your immune system is low, it makes it difficult for your body to fight off infection. The same thing also applies when you have poor nutrition. With a low immune system, your body is unable to protect itself from infection.
How to Get Healthy Gums Again
Identifying the signs of unhealthy gums and reversing the signs of damage is not enough. It is important that you know how to prevent gum problem in the first place. As the old adage says, prevention is always better than cure, and this could not be truer when it comes to gum and oral care. This process is not something that can happen quickly, though. It is a matter of developing a good oral habit. So, if you want to know how to get healthy gums overnight, you won’t find that here.
But if you want to know how to get healthy gums again, it takes no rocket science. You simply have to follow these tips in order to promote better oral health.
Brush your teeth properly
Yes – you brush your teeth daily. But are you brushing it the right way?
According to the American Dental Association, there are proper steps to brush the teeth properly. Ideally, you need to use a soft-bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. You need to brush your teeth at least two times a day.
The toothbrush you use is also vital to maintaining gum health. You need to replace the toothbrush you use every 3-4 months. Keep an eye on the bristles. When there are signs of fraying, you need to replace it.
Whenever you brush, always maintain a 45-degree angle towards your gums. Use short strokes when you move your toothbrush inside your mouth and use a gentle pressing motion. It is also advised that you use a variety of strokes so that you can target different parts of the teeth and gums.
Invest in the right toothpaste
The toothpaste you use is another vital component to maintaining healthy gums. When you are shopping for toothpaste, you will find that there are plenty of brands and types in the market. There are whitening toothpaste or those made with fluoride. But if you want to promote oral health (teeth and gums), always choose fluoride toothpaste as they are most effective in caring for your teeth and gums. It is also recommended that you look for the ADA seal to ensure that it is dentist-approved.
Finish off with mouthwash
It is not enough that you brush your teeth and gums. You need to rinse your mouth off with a mint rinse. This is an integral part of maintaining a good oral health care practice. These products are formulated with fluoride and antibacterial ingredients to promote fresh breath and to kill any bacteria that might form due to plaque.
The ADA suggests that you use the therapeutic mouthwash (as there is another type known as cosmetic mouthwash). The therapeutic mouthwash is formulated to prevent gum disease. It can also slow down the buildup of tartar and plaque on your teeth. However, the experts at ADA highly discourage using mouthwash as a replacement for brushing your teeth or flossing.
Use floss daily
Flossing is just as important to your oral health as brushing your teeth. Sadly, there are a lot of people who don’t floss regularly, which can be detrimental to your oral health.
When you floss, you can remove food particles that can get trapped in between your teeth and gum line. Oftentimes, these food particles are not visible to the naked eye. Even when you brush your teeth, the bristles might not be able to penetrate in between the spaces of your teeth (the way floss does), so you have to add this step to your dental care routine.
See your dentist regularly
Another common mistake that people are guilty of, which can lead to unhealthy gums, is to neglect regular dental visits. A lot of people only see their dentist when they have a toothache or a dental emergency arises. But this should not be the case.
A regular visit to the dentist will enable you to identify symptoms of gum disease right at the onset. You can also go to your dentist for professional cleaning to ensure that you can keep your teeth and gums healthy at all times. Early detection is an important part of oral health care so you should not take this step lightly.
This tip is an important reminder for anyone who smokes on a regular basis. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has cited that people who smoke are more prone to developing gum disease versus those who do not smoke. This is because smoking weakens the immune system.
If you are a smoker, it is best to quit smoking if you want to reduce the risk of developing gum disease or having unhealthy gums.
Food for Healthy Gums
Did you know that certain types of food can be your secret to healthier gums?
That’s right! What you eat can also impact the health of your gums. It is something to consider when you want to have stronger teeth and healthier gums. Taking care of your gums, therefore, does not mean that you should deprive yourself in terms of diet. But you just have to be smart about what type of foods you eat to ensure that you contribute to better gum health.
Onions – Onions is a great food to promote gum health because it has the ability to neutralize oral bacteria. The microbial properties found in onions fight common bacteria that is linked to cavities and other forms of gum disease. If you want healthy gums, you can make it a part of your daily diet. You can use onions on salads, burgers, sandwiches, soups, and more.
Citrus fruits – Citrus fruits are a good source of vitamin C. This type of vitamin is essential in providing anti-inflammatory benefits to keep your gums healthy. There are many citrus fruits that you can incorporate to your diet such as pineapples, strawberries, kiwis, oranges, and more. There are plenty of ways to add them to your diet, such as in the form of smoothies, fruit juices, salads, and yogurts.
Green tea – There is no secret that green tea is a good source of antioxidants. When you drink green tea on a regular basis, it can strengthen your gums to fight inflammation and prevent oral bacteria from spreading in your mouth. If you want to give your gums a boost, you should strive to drink at least one cup of green tea on a daily basis.
Milk and cheese – Milk and cheese are essential for oral health because they are rich in calcium. This type of mineral is linked to promoting healthy bones and this can also benefit your gums. In general, dairy products are important in promoting gum health due to protein known as casein. This type of protein is designed to neutralize the acid inside your mouth that can promote bacterial growth. Try to drink a cup of milk daily or include a snack containing dairy substances.
Crunchy vegetables and fruits – To promote healthier gums and teeth, you must add crunchy vegetables to your diet such as celery, apples, and carrots. These fruits and vegetable are not only tasty but they are also rich in fiber. Since they are crunchy, they take a longer time to chew and will create more saliva inside your mouth. Saliva is essential to flush the bacteria inside your mouth. Another advantage to eating crunchy vegetables is that it helps to scrape away food that is stuck in between the teeth.
Ginger – The benefits of ginger for gums is widely known. This is one of the natural ways to promote healthier teeth and gums. Consuming raw ginger can remove plaque from your teeth. It is known for its anti-inflammatory properties that can fight off infection on your gums.
Teeth Straightening to Promote Gum Health
Did you know that straighter teeth can improve overall oral health?
If you're worried about the health of your gums, it pays to straighten your teeth. If you are born with misaligned or crowded teeth, you can try Easysmile's 30-second assessment to provide the right clear aligners that would fix your teeth position.
If you want to promote better gum health, you can consult your orthodontics about teeth straightening solutions that would address this problem. When your teeth is not properly aligned, it makes cleaning your gums more difficult. As a result, you are more likely to suffer from bacterial or plaque formation when your teeth are not positioned properly.
Everyone wants to achieve that perfect smile, but some of us need help to achieve that. Thankfully, with companies like Easysmile offering clear aligners, it makes having the perfect set of teeth that much easier to achieve.
Do you suffer from unhealthy gums? What steps are you taking to prevent gum disease?