Great oral health starts with the gums. While most people focus on the teeth, gums are just as important – in many ways, even more critical, since they hold the teeth in place. The foundation for a healthy smile is rooted (literally) in clean, healthy gums.
Having healthy gums is especially important for children. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tooth decay and gum disease (gingivitis) are closely linked.
About 1 in 5 children aged 5-11 have at least one decayed tooth, which is a direct result of gingivitis. About 60% of U.S. children show signs of gum disease. All of this means knowing how to get healthy gums and keep them that way is a crucial process for superior health.
The Super Dentists, San Diego’s premier pediatric, parent dentistry, and orthodontics practice, thinks everyone deserves a winning smile – and it starts with good teeth and gum care. It’s important that parents understand what healthy gums look like. Can you identify healthy gum color and how to restore gum health in a child who is behind?
After a brief overview of the hazards of gum disease, let’s look at some different ways your child can boost their gum health – which ultimately leads to overall well-being!
What are the Dangers of Gum Disease?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the tissues that support the teeth. It is a common problem, especially in adults, but it can also occur in children.
The dangers of gum disease include tooth loss, as the infection can cause the gums to pull away from the teeth and the teeth to become loose. Gum disease can also cause bad breath and changes in the way the teeth fit together when the child bites.
If left untreated, gum disease can lead to more serious health problems, such as infections in the bone and tissue supporting the teeth, and an increased risk of heart disease. It is important for children to practice good oral hygiene and to see a dentist regularly to help prevent gum disease.
The statistics about gum disease are alarming enough – but did you know that gingivitis is linked to an assortment of maladies and diseases, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, infertility, and more?
Currently, the link between gum disease and higher mortality from COVID-19 illustrates a topical urgency on this subject. A recent study showed that patients with gum disease were almost 10 times as likely to die of COVID-19 than patients with healthy gums.
It appears the bacteria and microbes associated with gum disease cause a severe spike in the immune system, which, in terms of the body’s ability to fight off respiratory diseases like COVID-19, is like throwing gasoline on the fire. That is why knowing how to get healthy gums is more critical than ever before!
How to Improve Gum Health with Homecare
Getting healthy gums isn’t just good for your mouth – it’s good for your entire body and overall well-being! It’s easier than ever to obtain healthy gums by using simple prevention tactics. Try these healthy oral hygiene habits for a few weeks, and you’ll soon discover the difference between healthy vs unhealthy gums.
- Brush more often. Already brushing your teeth twice per day? Try adding in another brief brushing session – for example, a lunchtime brush (if you already brush your teeth in the morning and before bed).
- Say so long to nicotine and tobacco. If you smoke or use smokeless tobacco products, quit the habit and your mouth will thank you (so will the people around you). When people ask The Super Dentists how to get healthy gums, this is one of our favorite answers for smokers.
- Don’t forget to floss. Flossing helps remove bacteria and food debris, two of the main catalysts for gum disease. It only takes a minute, but this small step pays big dividends in the quest for healthy gums.
Positive habits and behaviors start at home. Make sure to encourage your children to take care of their teeth & gums on a daily basis.
What Causes Gum Recession
Gum recession is when the gum tissue around the teeth wears away, exposing more of the tooth or the tooth’s root. There are many factors that can contribute to receding gums:
Brushing too hard or using a toothbrush with hard bristles can cause gum recession by damaging the gum tissue. It’s important to use a soft bristle toothbrush and know how to brush properly.
Gum disease is a common cause of gum recession. The infection caused by gum disease can cause the gums to pull away from the teeth, leading to gum recession.
Grinding or clenching the teeth puts excessive pressure on the gums and can lead to loose teeth and receding gum lines.
Misaligned teeth or a poor bite can cause gum recession by placing unnecessary pressure on certain areas of the gums. This can also cause bleeding gums.
Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy or menopause, can cause the gums to become more sensitive and prone to gum recession.
Healthy Gums vs. Unhealthy Gums – The Big Difference in Oral Health
What do healthy gums look like, and what color are healthy gums? Simply put, healthy gums have a healthy pink color and are absent of any discoloration or recession. Inflammation and bleeding are two obvious signs of unhealthy gums. If your child experiences bleeding while brushing or flossing, there’s a good chance they have early onset gingivitis.
What do unhealthy gums look like?:
- Receding gum line
- Areas of white spots on the gums
- Pockets between teeth and gums
- Loss of tissue and bone (this indicates severe gingivitis)
Your child’s gums should be pink or red, with no receding. Also, their gums shouldn’t bleed from brushing or flossing. Keeping their gums (and your gums) healthy is just as important for oral health as it is for overall health; numerous studies show links between poor oral health (including gingivitis) and other health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and more.
Unhealthy gums, or gum disease, can be a more serious problem if it is left untreated. Gum disease leads to infection in the tissues around the teeth and can cause gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease and is characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, which is a more serious form of gum disease. Periodontitis involves the destruction of the gum tissue and the bone supporting the teeth, and can lead to tooth loss.
How to Have Healthy Gums Naturally
Aside from smart, disciplined at-home oral health, another way to strengthen gums naturally is with a sensible diet of mouth-friendly foods. Limit your child’s sugar intake and make sure they drink plenty of water (instead of sugary soft drinks and fruit juice).
Foods for Healthy Gums
Additionally, here are some foods for healthy gums that can help strengthen gums naturally:
- Apples – Considered Mother Nature’s floss by some experts, apples have natural acids that help clean teeth and gums. What’s more, the fruit’s skin acts as a natural flossing mechanism to keep gums healthy! Encourage your child to eat an apple for dessert!
- Dairy products – Calcium is essential for healthy teeth and gums, and few foods can match dairy for concentrated calcium content. Sugar-free yogurt, milk, and cheese are smart options here.
- Fibrous vegetables – Fiber is an underrated ingredient for healthy gums. Fibrous veggies take extra chewing to break down, which prompts extra saliva production. The saliva, in turn, washes away harmful bacteria to keep gums free of food particles and plaque.
- Ginger root – This pungent herb isn’t normally considered a mouth-friendly food, but it has naturally occurring anti-inflammatory compounds to promote healthy teeth and gums. Try some in a stir fry for your next family meal. Instead of jarred ginger, go with freshly grated ginger root.
What do healthy gums look like? Those who enjoy a wide assortment of natural, whole foods! Along with brushing, flossing, and giving up bad habits (see above), substitute sugar and processed snacks with the foods listed above, and you’ll soon learn how effortless it really is to obtain and maintain healthy gums!
Ensure Optimal Gum Health – Visit The Super Dentists Today!
A great smile starts with solid gum health. Know the difference between healthy vs unhealthy gums. The Super Dentists, San Diego’s largest and most trusted pediatric dentistry, orthodontics, and parent dentistry practice, is here to help with your family’s oral healthcare needs. From our innovative dental care techniques to a patient-friendly atmosphere, The Super Dentists are ready and looking forward to seeing you soon!
If you’re ready to make an appointment, you can do so using our easy-to-schedule online portal here.