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How to Prevent Gum Disease

When gums become swollen, tender to the touch, and easily bleed when you brush your teeth, you will join the close to 80% of adults in America that suffer from some form of gum disease. One of the most common conditions to strike is called gingivitis, which occurs when bacteria is allowed to multiply between the teeth and gums. Over time, the result is inflammation, irritation, and bleeding that is rather preventable. When left untreated, gingivitis can turn into periodontitis, which causes serious damage to bone, as well as tooth loss.

How to Prevent Gum Disease

What is Gum Disease?

Gingivitis (or gum disease) is a bacterial infection or inflammation of the gums that when left ignored can cause tooth loss. Within the process of periodontitis, gingivitis is the first phase, where an advanced condition can lead to the destruction of the bone and the tissues that support teeth.

When it comes to the causes of gum disease, poor dental habits is one of the most glaring sources of this condition. However, hormonal changes (pregnancy, menopause, and puberty); bad habits (smoking); certain saliva-reducing medications (like Dilantin or Adalat); and various diseases (cancer, diabetes, or HIV) can also cause gum disease to erupt.

A dentist will diagnose gum disease when there is the presence of gingival pockets, which means that a space has emerged between the tooth and the gum. The dentist will also verify the color and texture of the gums, check for loose teeth, and take an x-ray to see if supporting bone about the tooth has diminished [1].

Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease

While bleeding gums after brushing or flossing is a common sign of many different dental issues, one may suspect gum disease if they also encounter the following signs and symptoms:

a) Swelling:

Gums may swell and become red. Sometimes, the gums turn bright red or purple. They may also highlight a shiny appearance.

b) Bad Breath:

Gum disease may cause continuously bad breath or create a “bad taste” in the mouth.

c) Receding Gums:

The gums may pull away from teeth and may also reveal a wearing away of the teeth.

d) Loosened Teeth:

If the gums surrounding your teeth are affected, it may cause a tooth to become loose.

e) Mouth Sores:

Gum disease may cause sores to surface in the mouth.

f) Loss of Feeling:

Sometimes, gums become painless and only exhibit a sensation when pressure is applied.

g) Itchiness:

The gums may itch, which can occur with varying levels of intensity [2].

Risk Factors of Gum Disease

Gum disease can strike anyone at any age, as many individuals first experience problems with their gums during puberty. Throughout life, varying degrees of discomfort or symptoms may surface. The most driving force behind gum disease is poor oral hygiene, but there are many other things that can increase your risk.

For starters, the use of tobacco (cigars, pipes, cigarettes, and chewing tobacco) can create an environment perfect for bacteria to thrive in the mouth. Smoking also weakens the immune system, which places one in danger of suffering infection. Also, when trying to prevent gingivitis, your efforts will be less effective if you use tobacco products.

If you suffer a weakened immunity, you will also become more vulnerable to an array of infections, including gum disease. Diabetics who face blood sugar level fluctuations can suffer damaged body parts including the mouth; where they encounter an increased risk of cavities, tooth loss, infection, and gingivitis. Usually, dry mouth is also a symptom of diabetes, which increased the chances of gum disease as well.

The Negative Effects of Gum Disease

While the signs and symptoms of gum disease are enough to contend with, when left untreated – complications will arise. Ignored gum disease leads to periodontitis, which is more serious and can cause tooth loss. In some cases, the risk of heart attack or stroke is seen. Additionally, a woman with periodontitis faces an increased chance to give birth to a premature baby than a woman who has healthy gums.

How to Prevent Gum Disease

In order to save yourself from the stress of frequent dental visits and additional treatments, it is best to prevent gum disease in the first place. Below are a few ways to keep your gums healthy:

a) Maintain Good Dental Habits:

Brushing your teeth at least twice a day with regular flossing will keep both teeth and gums healthy.

b) Diet:

If you consume a diet that is packed with vitamins and other helpful antioxidants, you may boost the immune system to the point that gum disease is less likely to occur.

c) Teeth Habits:

People who grind their teeth are in danger of suffering gum disease; therefore, finding a way to deal with this damaging habit can save your gums and teeth. Some people have purchased plastic mouth guards to wear at night to prevent grinding.

d) Stop Smoking:

Since smokers are seven times more likely to suffer gingivitis, it is highly recommended to quit smoking to save gums and teeth.

e) Stress:

Reducing stress also lessens the chances of developing gum disease.

f) Barberry:

To strengthen the gums to withstand discomfort and disease, mix three to seven drops of barberry extract in 1 ½ cup of water to use as a daily rinse.

g) Goldenseal:

Mouthwashes made of goldenseal powder and water is great for treating sore gums, as well as preventing gum disease.

h) Myrrh [3]:

Myrrh has been known as a treatment and prevention method for gums and other oral issues since Biblical times. It is suggested to mix two to five drops of myrrh in one cup of water and use when needed.

i) Neem:

In Ayurvedic medicine, neem is known for its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that make decent mouthwashes and toothpastes. Neem can help protect against gum disease when used in a dental care product.

Resources

[1] http://www.studiodentaire.com/en/conditions/gingivitis.php
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gingivitis#Symptoms
[3] Earl Mindell’s New Herb Bible by Earl Mindell (pg. 244)

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