Unfortunately for your oral health, it can be very easy to ignore the dentist’s advice to brush and reminders to floss when you finish an appointment. Not taking care of your teeth can put you at risk of tooth decay and gum disease. You should stop avoiding good oral health until your six month check-up because, especially with most current diets, gingival issues aren’t too far away.
Who is at Risk?
Anyone can develop gingival problems, or gum problems, no matter what their age or lifestyle. Gingival problems are caused by a buildup of plaque and tartar on your teeth, whether this leads to cavities, gingivitis, or tooth decay. While anyone can experience this tooth decay, some individuals are more genetically prone to plaque buildup, and some individuals, like pregnant women and those on calcium blockers, create more plaque.
Causes of Increased Plaque
What plaque is are bacteria that make acids which break down your food clumping up with sugars and carbohydrates and adhering to your teeth. Tartar is what happens when plaque stays in place long enough to harden. Along with medical factors and predispositions, plaque and tartar build up can be caused by many personal habits and actions, or lack thereof.
Individuals who use tobacco, whether chewed or smoked, develop more plaque over time than those who don’t. This is also the case for people with dry mouth. Dry mouth can be caused by other products containing nicotine, such as vape, and by other materials like alcohol or by health conditions like diabetes and cancer.
Individuals who do not get enough vitamin C in their diet will also experience more pronounced plaque build up. Not having the right nutrients in food causes this and other negative reactions in the body.
Those who primarily eat starchy and sugary foods will also experience increased plaque build up. The bacteria in the plaque thrive on these kinds of bread and sugar diets and increase their numbers in your mouth. This includes everything from pasta to bread and from milk to candy. It doesn't take much sugar to instigate this, and even the sugars in fruit juice can help create more plaque.
Despite all this, poor oral upkeep is the real cause of plaque and tartar buildup. The bristles of toothbrushes are what pushes the formed plaque off of your teeth, and you are supposed to brush your gingiva, the gums right around your teeth, lightly so as to ensure no plaque gets into the gum line or stuck in crevices. Flossing is what gets plaque and other food particles out from between your teeth, where it would otherwise harden into tartar and form into a cavity.
Plaque and Your Gums
The reason that plaque build up is bad for your gums is because the bacteria in plaque continue making acid. This acid is strong enough to dissolve food in your mouth, and it’s strong enough to dissolve your teeth with long enough contact. This is why cavities are bad: the bacteria and acid continue to eat away at your teeth themselves until there are holes and infections in your teeth unless you brush and floss them out.
This plaque bacteria build up will cause halitosis, or bad breath, and after a while will cause gingival swelling and bleeding. This is because of constant acid injuring the gingiva by the bacteria immediately above it on the teeth. The inflammation can start in five days depending on the lack of oral care. It will take longer to develop with inconsistent oral care, but can eventually become generalized and plaque induced gingivitis.
Gingivitis and Other Diseases
Once usually pale pink gums become red, and especially if they become inflamed and begin receding, gingivitis has set in. This gum disease is the first stage of more serious infections and makes it painful and difficult to eat and even talk. Gums often bleed when touched, and may even bleed without touch.
Not addressing your gingival problems after gingivitis sets in can lead to increased damage and tooth decay. Periodontal disease is the next step of oral decay, but increasingly infected gums can lead to problems with your heart, problems with pregnancies, increased stroke, and even dementia.
Take Oral Health Seriously
It is important to recognize concerning factors like this to acknowledge the real damage of ignoring oral health needs. Because everyone is at risk of dental issues, having an awareness can be a great step to preventative care. Although many people have factors that can contribute to gingival damage, there are easy and routine steps to take that will remove almost all of the risk of damage.
Routine flossing, at least once daily, keeps materials out from between your teeth and prevents rot from occurring between teeth. Rinsing with mouthwash can remove bacteria from hard-to-reach areas and areas that wouldn't normally be considered, such as on the gums and under the tongue. Brushing your teeth twice a day gets the majority of the plaque off of your teeth and can also provide a protective coating or an enamel strengthener. Visiting your dentist for routine checkups gets rid of any additional tartar that has built up from unnoticed or missed areas, like the back side of teeth.
Maintaining your oral health is important for your general health, and with regular tools, you won't be at risk. Although gingival diseases are prevalent and easy to have, they are very preventable. If you do have symptoms of gingivitis or other gingival disease, reach out to your dentist, or contact Dental Plus Tarzana for a consultation.