How do I know if I have healthy or unhealthy gums?
Healthy gums are pain-free, firm, and pink. Unhealthy gums, on the other hand, might be red or swollen, or might appear to be receding—that is, pulling away from the teeth. If you notice that your gums bleed when you brush or floss your teeth, that’s a sign that your gums aren’t as healthy as they should be. You should also be on the look-out for any soreness or tenderness in your gums. Even tooth sensitivity or pain can be a sign of gum disease; when your gums recede, it exposes teeth to hot and cold temperatures from foods, beverages, or the environment around them.
If you suspect you might have issues with your gums, don’t hesitate. Call Antoine Dental Center at 713-497-1499 to schedule an appointment; one of our specialists will conduct a thorough examination, give you a diagnosis, and help you develop an individualized treatment plan so you can get your gums back to maximum health!
What can I do to improve and maintain gum health?
The most important part of protecting your gums is establishing a dedicated oral hygiene routine. Here are some steps you should consider if you’re specifically concerned about your gum health.
the type of toothbrush you use matters, and not just for your teeth! Choosing a soft-bristle tooth brush, especially one with varied bristle lengths, will decrease possible irritation to your gums. Their flexibility also helps you clean hard-to-reach areas. And remember to swap out your toothbrush every 3 to 4 months! Worn-down or frayed bristles aren’t nearly as efficient at maintaining gum health as fresh, new ones.
What should I avoid to prevent developing gum disease?
There are a number of things you should avoid in order to improve and maintain your gum health.
- Tobacco products: smoking and tobacco use are a major contributor to unhealthy gums; in fact, smokers are up to seven times more likely to suffer from gum disease. Smoking makes it harder for your body to fight off infections like gum disease and will negatively impact any treatment that Antoine Dental Center recommends to improve your gum health. The CDC has compiled a report on the various connections between gum disease and smoking.
- Poor diet: poor nutrition, including malnutrition, increases your chances of developing gum disease. When your body can’t access a proper set of nutrients, it has a harder time fighting infections, including gum disease. Foods that help suppress inflammation include vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and fatty fish.
- Poor oral hygiene: as much as regular brushing and flossing can help you avoid unhealthy gums, a deviation from your oral hygiene routine can increase your chances of developing gum health issues. Regular brushing and flossing is a must!
- Certain medications: some over-the-counter or prescription medications can lead to dry mouth. These include certain types of painkillers, decongestants, and antihistamines, which, by lessening the flow of saliva, can increase the chances of developing gum disease.
- Hormonal changes: research shows that stages of hormonal change, including puberty, pregnancy, monthly menstruation, and menopause, can lead to gum sensitivity and inflammation. During these periods, pay extra attention to maintaining your oral hygiene.
- Chronic diseases: serious diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and HIV impact your immune system, which makes it harder for your body to fight infections like gum disease. It’s important to share your medical history with your dentist, so our Antoine Dental Center team can be sure to make the right diagnosis and treatment recommendations.
Why is gum health so important anyway?
Visiting the dentist isn’t just about your teeth! Your gums are equally important to maintaining strong oral health and hygiene. When your gums are operating at maximum efficiency, they ensure your teeth remain well-supported and help drive off possible oral diseases. Healthy gums improve your chances of enjoying long-term oral health! The reverse is also true; unhealthy gums significantly increase your chance of developing oral health issues—at their most chronic, these gum health issues may lead to periodontitis. Gum disease is also one of the leading causes of adult tooth loss.
There are various conditions that affect gums specifically; these include gingivitis and periodontitis, a disease of the gums that can present serious oral complications. Research shows that serious gum disease is associated with higher risk of other major diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and chronic respiratory disease.
What are symptoms of gingivitis?
Gingivitis is a gum disease caused by the build-up of plaque on teeth, which inflames the surrounding gum tissue. It is also an extremely common disease: 3 in 4 Americans will experience gingivitis during their lifetime. So it’s important to know what to watch out for and come into our Houston dental office if any of the symptoms below are familiar to you.
The most straightforward sign of possible gingivitis is gum inflammation and bleeding. If you notice these symptoms, give Antoine Dental Center a call so one of our specialists can examine you, ensure you receive the proper diagnosis, and recommend a course of treatment. Gingivitis is a mild gum disease; it can often by corrected by a rigorous and intentional oral hygiene routine, include anti-gingivitis toothpaste—your Antoine Dental Center dentist will be happy to work with you to establish the right oral hygiene routine to maximize your gum health.
You may also experience soreness or tenderness, and some patients also report a regular bad taste in their mouth or consistent bad breath.
What are symptoms of periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease appears in a spectrum from early to advanced periodontitis. Signs that you may have early periodontitis include receding gums (noticeable around the roots of your teeth) and the formation of periodontal pockets between your gums and your teeth. Symptoms may be even more subtle—growing spaces between your teeth, for example, or bridges and partial dentures that don’t fit the way they used to. Advanced stage periodontitis includes continued receding gums, which leads to bone and tissue loss—when teeth lose these supports, they become loose and may eventually fall out.
What are my treatment options if I am diagnosed with periodontal disease?
Depending on the severity of periodontal disease, your Antoine Dental Center dentist may decide on any of the following treatment procedures. Keep in mind that we will walk you through your diagnosis and individualized treatment plan, and answer any questions along the way. We will work with you to make sure your treatment plan is as comfortable and pain-free as possible!
- Root scaling and planing: sometimes, your treatment may be as straightforward and simple as removing plaque and tartar, especially in gum health-critical areas like the surface of your teeth above and below the gum line. If the tartar is very deeply set into your gums, its removal may require a surgical procedure.
- Gingivectomy: this procedure removes the diseased gum tissues and removes the pockets that can form between the teeth and gums; eliminating these pockets will help block harmful bacteria from affecting your gums.
- Bone or tissue replacement: since periodontal disease can damage your bones, one treatment, called flap surgery, targets your tooth roots and repairs any bone damage sustained due to the disease. Your dentist may move small samples of bone or tissue from another part of your mouth to either fill in bone loss sites or cover exposed tooth roots.
- Extraction: when periodontal disease leads to loose and irremediably diseased teeth, your Antoine Dentist Center dentist may recommend the total removal of affected teeth. But don’t worry! Our Houston-based office offers a huge variety of teeth replacement procedures to fit everyone’s needs and budgets.
You can read about Antoine Dental Center’s periodontitis treatment options here.
Still worried about keeping your gums healthy?
Remember, if you think you may exhibit any symptoms of gum health issues, give Antoine Dental Center a call and book an appointment at our Houston office. The earlier we can catch it, the easier and faster your treatment will be!
Chew Good. Look Good. Feel Good.
It can be easy to lose sight of a few important things. One thing which often gets overlooked is the importance of your oral health. At Antoine Dental Center in Houston, TX, we’re proud to offer the convenience of same-day dental cleanings and exams and quality procedures for everything from braces to dental implants. Schedule an appointment and see why our patients love us.
Learn More About Our Services