How well are you taking care of your gums? Traditionally, we don’t think of this to be our first priority when it comes to taking care of our health, but poor gum hygiene can actually be the beginning of many other health issues.
Our mouth (and gums in particular) are full of millions of tiny good bacteria (microbiome) that help to protect our mouths against disease causing bacteria. When this ratio of good to bad bacteria is upset, this leaves room for bad bacteria and pathogens to take over, leading to potential infection and gum disease, also known as Gingivitis or Periodontal Disease.1
Gum disease often causes the gums to become red, swollen, and bloody (when brushing or flossing).2 Additionally, abscesses can form and the breath may begin to smell foul, causing an unpleasing taste in the mouth. In some severe cases, teeth can become loose.2
There are two stages of gum disease:
Gingivitis, being the first, is the early stages of gum disease where symptoms are not as severe and the disease is still easily reversible.3
The buildup of plaque on the teeth that is not removed through flossing or brushing can cause inflammation of the gums.3 This inflammation causes gums to become red, and bleed. Regular visits to the dentist, flossing and brushing can prevent, and reverse gingivitis.3
Periodontitis, however, is the much more severe and dangerous form of gum disease, and is more difficult to reverse.4
This stage of the disease causes severe inflammation of the gums, where the gums begin to separate from the teeth. The newly formed space left between the gums and the teeth is now a perfect space for bacteria to breed, which can lead to infection.4
This can cause the body to naturally try to fight this by breaking down the gums and tissue in order to save and protect the teeth. This causes loosening of the teeth, making them potentially have to be removed in extreme cases if the infection spreads to the teeth.4
What causes gum disease and how can I prevent it?
There are many factors that can cause gum disease and many factors that can prevent it. Many common causes are:
Poor dental hygiene (regular brushing, flossing, and dental visits are good dental hygiene practices) 5
Family history of gum disease.5
Illness (illness can weaken the immune system, creating a good habitat for bad bacteria) 5
Hormonal Changes (menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause can weaken the gums, making them more susceptible to disease) 5
In order to protect your gums against the bad bacteria, there are many precautions that can be taken.
Practicing good oral hygiene is key. Using mouthwash, flossing daily, and brushing will protect your mouth against the buildup of the plaque.6
Eating a well balanced diet low in sugar. Sugar creates a breeding ground for bacteria, as well as feeding it. Eating a well balanced diet can help to protect you against the formation of gum disease by providing the body with the vitamins and minerals it needs to fight off disease.7
Stopping smoking can help to create healthier gums, lowering your risk of developing the disease.8
Brush with baking soda. Baking soda helps to whiten teeth, polish, and clean your teeth, while neutralising the pH in your mouth, making it more difficult for the bad bacteria to grow.8
What can I consume to help reverse or prevent gum disease?
Inflammation of the gums is one of the main symptoms of gum disease. Increasing your intake of anti inflammatory foods, such as turmeric, papain and bromelain, can help to lower inflammation levels in the body.9
According to a study conducted on nonsmokers, it was said that a diet with a high intake of Beta-carotene (Vitamin A), Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Omega- 3 fatty acids helped to heal the individuals of gum disease.10
Additionally, another study found that individuals with a low intake of Vitamin C had a greater chance of developing gum disease than those with an adequate Vitamin C consumption.11
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