Note: Periodontal disease can be quite complex, this is a simple explanation of healthy gums and the importance that they play in your health and wellness. So please forgive us for avoiding hefty medical terms and complex biochemistry. Our intention is to simply communicate the vital importance of healthy gums.
Healthy gums are pretty amazing… and they look good too!
Think of everything that your teeth and gums have to withstand. Chewing forces alone can average 70 pounds per square inch–unless you are a night grinder as this condition can exert force up to TEN TIMES that amount!
And these forces can be up-and-down or side-to-side, and while this can all get quite technical the simple facts are that your gums have their work cut out for them to keep your teeth stable and capable of doing their job.
Anyone that has lost teeth or suffered from gum disease can attest to the fact that life is not so much fun when you can’t chew, or sometimes even talk right.
But your gums do quite a bit more than just hold teeth in place.
Your gums may look like “pinkish putty” but they actually are composed of lots and lots of fibers that connect in many directions to the bone. This allows for a marvelous process that:
- Keeps your teeth stably in place, but still enough “wiggle room” to absorb and deal with the force and stress of living
- Detect force levels by communicating “stretch factors” to the brain, so the brain can tell how much force is being applied
- Play a very dynamic role in mineral absorption and the process of actively replacing your bone tissue cells
- Provide immune support by buffering against the invasion of “bad bacteria” into the bone and the body
Covering these strands or fibers is an outer layer with a fancy name of “gingival epithelium” (gingiva is just a Latin name for gums!). This is a really important layer as it provides the protection against the bacteria rich environment in your mouth and the inner gum tissue, the bone tissue and your body.
Think of it as a wall that keeps out the unwanted food particles and bacteria. It protects you and it is a major player in your immune system and as it fails you become exposed to unhealthy bacteria, infections and inflammation.
Now you might begin to understand why unhealthy gums, particularly as they begin to “pull away” from your teeth and form pockets, can pose such a health hazard. In fact, gum disease has been linked to heart disease, strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, chronic inflammation and other health problems.
As gums fail this then accelerates the erosion of your teeth, weakens the bone structure in your jaw, aids the spreading of infection into your blood stream and body, and imperils your immune system.
We think we have made our point, healthy gums are vital and important to overall health and wellness.
What should healthy gums look like?
Generally they are a pink-tone with some variations from person to person. Gums that are red or white indicate unhealthy conditions. They should be tight to the tooth and have a nice rounded, snug fit around the tooth (not a deep arch or a loose fit). They should feel firm and not puffy or inflamed. There should be the most minimal of indentations around the tooth and certainly not any pockets.
When it comes to maintaining healthy gums and fighting periodontal disease there is a senior rule to follow:
Keep unhealthy bacteria UNDER CONTROL.
There are many ways to do this but the most basic and effective are:
- Routine, consistent basic dental hygiene such as: brushing, flossing and, in some cases, tongue scraping
- Regular dental cleanings, with deep cleanings recommended for those that already have gingivitis or periodontal disease
- The use of oral probiotics to seed the mouth with beneficial bacteria that will control the growth of “bad bacteria”
Understanding the basic mechanics of unhealthy gums and gum disease should make it clear why ROUTINE and CONSISTENT dental hygiene regimens are so important. The bacteria that contributes to most gum disease grows consistently and so it is important that their growth is consistently disturbed. This is why DAILY flossing is so important–it disrupts the growth cycle of the bacteria as well as cleans out food sources for those bacteria.
One other important factor is maintaining the saliva flow in your mouth.
Saliva is not just spit or liquid. It is a powerful agent that buffers the acid produced by bacteria. An acidic environment in your mouth does not just erode your teeth. Acid actually promotes the growth of bad bacteria, so saliva will fight this by stabilizing the pH levels. Plus saliva is critically important in the remineralization process of your teeth, it provides a steady source of minerals that continually feed and rebuild the enamel on your teeth. So a dry mouth is a bad thing!
Dry mouth can be caused by certain medications, so if this is the case then discuss alternatives with your doctor. Chewing promotes saliva flow and many people find relief by using healthy chewing gum choices.
Additionally, our oral probiotic blend has been shown to increase saliva flow. This is the result of certain key probiotics we have included that stimulate healthy saliva flow.
We certainly hope that this has helped you to better understand why healthy gums are so important to you. We also hope it has inspired you to seek great oral health for you and for your family.