Often overlooked, your gums are an incredibly important part of your oral health. They cover your jaw bone and help keep your teeth anchored in place. A good dental routine not only keeps your teeth strong, it also keeps your gums healthy.

 

Jumping teeth and gums toy

 

Here’s what you need to know about your gums and why it’s so important to keep them healthy.

 

What Are Gums?

Gums are the soft tissues that provide a seal around your teeth. The roots of each tooth (that look like legs) are anchored into your jawbone and kept in place by your gums.

 

Dentist using metal tool to examine gums and teeth

 

While gums are generally coral pink, the hue varies with each person.

 

Plaque

The number one enemy to the health of your gums, just like your teeth, is plaque.

 

Plaque is a sticky substance that is constantly forming a film over your teeth. The bacteria in plaque feed off the sugars in the foods you eat. They produce harmful acid, which eats through the 3 layers of your teeth. However, this pesky film harms more than your teeth; it puts your gums at risk of infection.

 

Gingivitis

If plaque isn’t removed, it hardens to tartar (or calculus), which releases bacterial toxins. These toxins irritate the gums and can lead to gingivitis.

 

Gingivitis is the beginning phase of gum disease and refers to inflamed gums that easily bleed when brushing your teeth. If you notice blood on your toothbrush or your gums bleeding, it’s likely you have gingivitis.

The good news is that gingivitis is generally reversible because your jaw bone and connective tissues haven’t been harmed.

 

Periodontal Disease

If gingivitis goes untreated, it can progress into periodontal disease and destroy your jaw bone, gums, and connective tissue. Any damage to these parts of your mouth is irreversible.
Illustration showing the stages of periodontal disease

In this extreme case of gum disease, the inner layer of your gums pulls away from your teeth and forms pockets. As the plaque grows beyond your gum lines, the bacteria in the plaque infect the pockets. Your immune system begins to attack the bacterial infection, breaking down your jaw bone and connective tissue.

 

When your bone, gums, and connective tissue begin to break down, your teeth are no longer anchored into place. This can cause your teeth to become loose and require you to have them extracted.

 

How to Protect Your Gums

The most effective way to protect your gums is to continually clean away the plaque that forms on your teeth. Brush twice a day, floss once a day, and visit the dentist every 6 months for a professional cleaning.

 

Dentists have the tools necessary to remove plaque in hard-to-reach areas, along with the tools to remove hardened plaque (tartar).

 

Dentist measuring depth of a person's gum pockets with periodontal dental probe

 

During your appointment, the dentist will check the depth of the pockets between your gums and your teeth with a periodontal probe. The dentist uses this “measuring stick” to check the depth of these pockets, to make sure your gums aren’t receding.

Your gums are an important part of your overall dental health. For more information or to schedule a dental appointment, contact A Beautiful Smile at Lake Pointe in Sugar Land, Texas. We are dedicated to providing you and your family with expert dental care.