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dentist caring for gums

Happy National Gum Care Awareness Month

dentist caring for gums

Every September, we’re reminded that approximately 67 million Americans, or around 47 percent, suffer from some harmful form of gum disease. By their 20s or 30s, most people have lost at least one tooth; by their 60s, most have lost an average of eight teeth to gum disease. Here are answers to some of the most common questions people have about gum health, gum disease and gum care.

Ready for your next dental exam and tooth cleaning? Call our office today to schedule your next appointment! 

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an infection or inflammation of the gums. Its primary cause is poor dental hygiene. It develops in stages, with gingivitis being the earliest stage. Its symptoms are relatively benign and generally painless and include swelling and redness in the gums and gum bleeding. It is easy to reverse, especially with a dentist’s aid, by improving your oral care program.

If gingivitis worsens, it becomes periodontitis, in which plaque and tartar buildup, causing greater mouth concerns. Gums could pull away from the teeth, teeth could shift and separate and fall out, and dental deep-cleanings and possibly oral surgery may be necessary.

Does Gum Disease Give You Bad Breath?

Bad breath is a common symptom of gum disease. More formally known as halitosis, this occurs when the bacteria in the mouth emit volatile sulfur compounds, or chemical gasses with a powerful and unpleasant odor.

You can also get bad breath from bacteria building up on your tongue. When you consistently remove the plaque and tartar it forms by properly brushing and flossing your teeth and getting your regular cleanings from your Western Massachusetts dentist, you can eliminate that bad breath. Good oral hygiene is, in fact, the simplest and most enduring way to accomplish that. It does not work instantaneously, it can take some time and persistence before the odor vanishes completely.

Bad breath can also result from:

  • Digestive problems
  • Dry mouth
  • Infections in the throat or lungs
  • Mouth breathing
  • Partially erupted wisdom teeth
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Smoking
  • Systemic diseases like diabetes
  • Tonsil stones

How Do You Get Help Properly Caring for Your Gums?

Your dentist can be your partner in caring for your gums and protecting them from gum disease. Call us today to schedule a dental checkup and cleaning to put yourself on the path to a healthy mouth and beautiful smile for life.

Does Gum Disease Impact Any Other Areas of the Body?

The ravages of gum diseases are not restricted to the mouth. To the contrary, the further gum disease is allowed to progress unchecked, the more of the body it can affect; moreover, the more increasingly severe, hard to treat and, eventually, irreversible those effects can become.

A great deal of research has gone into identifying any connections between gum disease and various other serious health issues, like Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and heart disease. Proving gum disease causes other systemic and chronic conditions may still be difficult for researchers, but they’ve at least proven that certain system and chronic health conditions can lead to gum disease.

If you have a medical condition seemingly unrelated to gum disease and you notice any sudden changes in that condition, ask your dentist in Western Massachusetts or your primary care doctor if your condition could have any impact on your mouth and dental health. When the body’s general health is altered or impacted for whatever reason, it can threaten gum health as well.

How Do You Manage Gum Disease in Kids?

Children should begin having their teeth brushed at 12 months of age. Use just a drop of toothpaste, and make sure to brush all the teeth’s surfaces, the gum line included.

When you notice the gaps in your child’s teeth begin to close, that’s when you should start flossing the child’s teeth as well. At first, you should set up a teeth brushing routine in order to get your child accustomed to the ritual. Once the child can take over brushing and flossing their own teeth, you should pass the responsibility over to them and simply make sure to monitor that it’s getting done consistently and correctly.

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends children start having regular visits with a dentist as of one year old approximately. By doing this, you can avoid gum disease in most kids, and catch and treat it early if it does arise.

There is a tendency for puberty to stimulate gingivitis because of all the hormonal shifts throughout the body taking effect. If you have a teenager, monitor them closely to ensure they keep up with their good dental hygiene habits and take them to their Western Massachusetts dentist on a regular basis for dental exams and professional cleanings.

How Do You Manage Gum Disease While Pregnant?

As long as the woman feels physically capable enough, she should continue to get her regular professional cleanings during her pregnancy.

Women do have a high risk of getting pregnancy gingivitis. The influx of hormones occurring with pregnancy makes the gum tissue more vulnerable to bacterial attack. Women commonly notice a rise in bleeding or swollen gums while pregnant. To help compensate for this elevated susceptibility, it could even be necessary for women to get more frequent professional dental cleanings while they’re pregnant rather than cut down on them or cut them out until after giving birth.

Is Gum Disease Contagious?

Most of the factors promoting gum disease involve your own personal oral care habits. However, researchers have found limited evidence that the bacteria that cause gum disease can be exchanged between couples and passed down from parents to their kids.

Is Smoking Bad for the Gums?

Gum disease tends to occur more commonly in people who smoke or chew tobacco, since it weakens the immune system’s ability to combat infection.

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