Getting to Know Your Gums
Gingival tissues is one of the most underrated mucosal tissues in your body. Many people worry about the health of their teeth, or if they get a sore on their tongue, but the gums are often always an afterthought. Even when they easily bleed or become puffy, most people don’t realize that their gums may be in danger. Taking care of your gum tissue is one of the most important aspects of healthy oral hygiene. After all, the health of your gingival tissue can have a massive effect on your whole entire body.
Gingival tissue, more commonly referred to as the gums, is a specific type of epithelial tissue known as mucosal membrane. This tissue is extremely smooth and its main function is to cover and protect the jawbone from bacteria, debris, and extreme temperatures. This tissue is extremely important because of the role it plays in diagnosing serious conditions such as oral cancer and periodontal disease. Changes in the gingival tissue, such as a color change, thickening, or a change in texture can be indicative of an array of conditions. Cancer, periodontal disease, and nutrient deficiency to name a few. Dentists have long relied on the mucosal membranes in the mouth to learn more about their patient’s overall health.
Our gums are tested every day. From receiving all the hot, cold, acidic, sweet, and alkaline foods we ingest every day and constantly fighting off infections caused by harmful bacteria, there are many different, and common gingival disorders dentists diagnose and treat.
Gum disease is the first and most important gingival concern. This is characterized by puffy, bleeding gums. They may cause bad breath or pain when flossing. Gum disease, often called gingivitis, is an infection that results when harmful bacteria in plaque builds up on the teeth. If ever there was a disease dentist’s are happy to see, it is gingivitis. This is only because it means that a patient still has time to correct their oral routine and completely reverse any damage. Gum disease is very common, but by following a beneficial oral health routine it can be prevented entirely. Brushing your teeth for two minutes twice each day removes bacteria and deposits of plaque before it has the opportunity to infiltrate the gums and cause gum disease. Flossing correctly is also essential in preventing or reversing the effects of gum disease. This habit removes bacteria where it can be most harmful and neglected – between the gums.
Periodontal disease affects half of the adult US population over the age of 35. It is the result of gum disease that goes unchecked and untreated. Once gum disease has progressed into periodontal disease, it must be treated with a procedure called scaling and planing, and then periodontal therapy will be necessary at every subsequent dental check up. Periodontal disease causes the gums to pull away from the teeth and create pockets that expose the fragile root of the tooth. These pockets are the perfect place for more bacteria and plaque to accumulate which exacerbates the disease. Treating periodontal disease is crucial if the patient does not want to lose any teeth or increase their risk for many other chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, pancreatic cancer, or Alzheimer’s. Scaling and planing, a traditional procedure for treating periodontal disease, first removes plaque from the teeth (scaling) and from below the gum line (planing). Planing also smooths the exposed root of the tooth so that once the gum tissue is relatively healthy again, it has a chance to reattach to the tooth.
Gum recession is another common issue present in gingival tissue. Characterized by gums that recede, or shrink, down from the teeth, gingival recession can be very problematic as it exposes the root of the tooth. It can be caused in many ways. Smoking, excessive wear on the tissue, inflammation, and genetics can all play a role in gingival recession. Sufferers may experience increased sensitivity to the teeth. To treat recessed gums a gingival graft may be necessary. A gingival graft is much like a skin graft, but with mucosal membrane. Extreme care must be taken when during the healing process so the new tissue does not become infected.
If your gums are causing you concern, give your Jacksonville, Florida dentist a call today. Dr. Shields can asses your situation and help you achieve total gum health and wellness.