Have you thought about your gums today?
May 12th is Gum Health Day - Gum Health Day. We at smilestore take this as an opportunity to spend a few minutes with you discussing the importance of healthy gums. This can protect you from periodontal disease (the correct technical term is periodontitis), which, if left untreated, results in early tooth loss and increases the risk of diseases throughout the body. As uncomfortable as it sounds, periodontal disease is still widespread in the German population and worldwide. So time to take a closer look at the gums!
“Healthy gums, beautiful smile
Gum Health Day was launched by the European Federation of Periodontology. Periodontology is the study of the periodontium, the tooth-supporting apparatus. The disease that is at the center of this discipline is periodontitis, commonly known as periodontosis. It is characterized by inflammation of the periodontium, as a result of which the bone process in which the teeth are attached is broken down, ultimately leading to tooth loss.
In 2019, the focus of the Gum Health Day is on the importance of periodontal health for charisma, self-esteem and self-confidence as well as for overall physical health. This year's slogan is “Healthy gums, beautiful smile”. Because when we have healthy gums, we not only feel better overall and more in the mood to laugh, but we also do it more readily and with an unusual charisma. And you? Have you given yourself or someone else a smile today?
Plaque, inflamed gums and periodontal disease
Unfortunately, having teeth free of tartar is no guarantee that you won't get gum inflammation - The germs can penetrate into the narrow gap between the tooth and gums even without their demineralization. The bacteria carry out metabolism there and release a poison that causes inflammatory processes (endotoxins). The first signs of gum inflammation are rapidly bleeding gums, redness or swelling of the gums. If the germs migrate deeper, gum pockets form between the tooth and gums, where the bacteria can multiply undisturbed. The periodontal membrane and jawbone are then also attacked by the bacteria and their toxins.
The bacteria should come out — including the tooth
The body now registers these harmful bacteria and overreacts a bit. He sends out the command, the affected areas — gum and tooth — easy to push off and break down the jawbone. For this purpose, an enzyme (active matrix metalloproteinase-8) is sent out, a kind of “tissue scissors” that cuts through the collagen tissue. This process is called collagenolysis and means active periodontal degeneration, i.e. a progressive decline of the periodontium. The result: the teeth begin to wobble and eventually fall out. During this degradation process, the gate to the bloodstream is opened for the bacteria, which is closed in the healthy jawbone. If periodontal disease is not treated, it not only results in bone loss and tooth loss, but the disease-causing bacteria spread throughout the entire body.
Periodontal disease as a health risk for the entire body
Periodontal disease is therefore definitely not to be viewed as a harmless disease that “only” plays in the mouth. There is increasing medical consensus that it has numerous negative effects on the entire organism. Periodontal disease increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, lung diseases such as COPD or premature birth by a factor of two to seven. There are also proven negative interactions with diabetes. If you consciously pay attention to your gums in your daily oral hygiene and thus prevent periodontal disease, you will help your entire body stay healthy. It will thank you!
Okay, and how common is periodontal disease actually?
Tooth falling out and the multitude of negative effects on overall health may now sound to you like a serious, but at best rare, exotic disease that will probably never affect you. Well — far from it!
Even though the last German oral health study from 2018 found that periodontal diseases have declined in Germany in the recent past, the disease is still widespread. More than half of younger adults ages 35 to 44 and about 65% of younger seniors ages 65 to 74 have moderate or severe periodontal disease. We think these numbers speak for themselves and should be reason enough to take even more care of your gums.
And if periodontal disease has occurred? How is it treated?
Periodontal disease can be treated by a general dentist or periodontist, but cannot be reversed. This is why regular preventive visits to the dentist are so important. There, a periodontitis screening can be used to determine whether periodontosis is present and how far it has progressed.
If periodontal disease already exists, various treatment steps are available, depending on the degree of the disease and the individual case. In any case, the inflamed tissue must be removed and the gum pockets disinfected. The affected tooth and its root are cleaned and, if necessary, smoothed if the surface is rough and bacteria could take hold again. Antibiotics are also often used.
And what can you do for your gums yourself?
It is of course better than early treatment of periodontal disease at the dentist if it does not develop in the first place. So that you can maintain your healthy smile and your healthy body for a long time, we would like to give you some recommendations for preventing periodontal disease.
1. Oral hygiene: You have already done a lot for the health of your gums and thus also for the prevention of periodontal disease if you follow the well-known guidelines for daily oral care: in the morning and in the evening brush your teeth thoroughly using a toothbrushing technique (e.g. the bass method) or an electric toothbrush. Ultrasonic toothbrushes have proven to be particularly efficient. In the smilestore you can also find toothpastes and mouthwashes with ingredients that are particularly good for your gums. At least once a day you should clean the spaces between your teeth using dental floss or an interdental brush. The bristles of the toothbrush cannot reach there, which is why gum inflammation often occurs from these areas. If your gums are temporarily bleeding, chlorhexidine gel can help you heal the underlying inflammation.
2. Smoking and obesity: If either of these apply to you, quitting smoking and losing weight would be an effective measure, as both smoking and too many fat cells fuel inflammation ;ndings, which increases the risk of developing periodontal disease.
3. Nutrition: The bacteria present in plaque love to metabolize sugar and carbohydrates. If you reduce the number of sugary meals (sweets as well as high-sugar fruits, juices and smoothies) and swap some of your carbohydrate intake, such as bread and pasta, for vegetables, protein-rich foods and healthy fats, you'll be fine thus another big step towards preventing periodontal disease.
4. Visits to the dentist and prophylaxis: Since periodontitis is often caused by inflammation of the gums, it is advisable to pay an early visit to your dentist if symptoms persist for a long time, such as red, painful and rapidly bleeding gums, in order to obtain suitable treatment to take countermeasures. Even if there are (apparently) no problems, the general recommendation of two dental prophylactic appointments per year applies. This ensures that emerging problems are identified and treated in a timely manner. Every two years, your periodontal screening index, i.e. the status of your gums and periodontium, can be determined as part of prophylaxis, covered by statutory health insurance companies. Professional teeth cleaning can also have a preventive effect, as it removes tartar as a source of bacteria on the gum line.
5. Mental health and stress: As is true for many illnesses, it is also worth paying attention to your mental health and mental well-being when it comes to your own risk of periodontal disease, as stress and depression promote Inflammation – demonstrably also in the mouth.
6. Kissing: And finally some bad news: Kissing is known to exchange bacteria - If your partner has periodontal disease, the bacteria that cause it are transmitted via saliva when kissing, which also increases your own risk of periodontal disease. Prevention should be all the more important to both partners: tooth and gum care in the name of love!
We hope you learned something new about your gums and how to best protect them. For Gum Health Day, we at smilestore wish you health that starts in your mouth and a beautiful smile that suits you even better than your favorite shirt: Healthy gums – beautiful smile!
An article by Simone Schießer, guest author on the smileblog. She is a copywriter for websites and blogs with a focus on content marketing and writes primarily in the areas of health, medicine and construction.