I grew up seeing some of my older relatives remove their ‘teeth’ before going to bed. Sometimes, they expressed discomfort with chewing or dentures that were either too tight or too loose. I decided early on in my life that I was not going to go down that same road.
As the saying goes, “ignore your teeth and they will go away.” I wanted to keep my teeth because my smile was just too important to me!
So, I go to the dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings, floss daily and avoid sugary foods. During my visits, my dentist or hygienist usually says things along the line of “keep your gums healthy and they will help keep you healthy.”
I always smile and thank them for the advice. Honestly though, I just wrote their comments off as great marketing – a way to keep me coming back.
I now know that they were giving me sound advice since research is proving more and more that gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Also, people with gum disease may have a higher risk of various other conditions such as diabetes, dementia and cardiovascular problems.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is an inflammation of the gum line that can affect the bone that supports and surrounds your teeth. Just like your intestines, your mouth is home to different types of bacteria. When all the types of bacteria are in balance, your gums are protected from disease-causing bacteria.
However, disturbing the bacteria balance provides an opening for disease-causing bacteria and other microorganisms to invade the gums.
According to the British Dental Journal, activities like smoking, taking certain medications like antibiotics, poor oral hygiene and poor diet may disturb the balance of bacteria in our mouth and enhance the activity of these disease-causing bacteria.
This increase in disease-causing bacteria generally results in your body’s immune system, and the white blood cells that get rid of them, to produce substances that not only destroy the bacteria but also damage your gum tissue. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to loss of teeth.
How Can You Be Proactive?
While going to your dentist regularly, brushing and flossing, and reducing your sugar intake will go far in preventing bacterial infection and reducing inflammation of your gums, those steps alone are not enough.
You may want to avoid smoking because people who smoke are more likely to develop gum disease. Also, discuss with your doctor any effect the medications you take may have on your gums.
Consider using a periobiotic toothpaste. I have been using this specialized toothpaste for over a year. It reportedly has a probiotic that competes with the unhealthy strains of oral bacteria and helps to maintain my gums healthy.