Do you brush your teeth faithfully for at least two minutes twice a day? How about flossing?
According to a recent survey conducted by the Chicago Dental Society, more than half of the dentists surveyed said that their patient’s top excuse for not brushing or flossing is that they don’t have enough time. Though time is precious, a few minutes a day dedicated to proper oral hygiene can go a long way in maintaining good oral health and a higher level of overall health.
Proper brushing and flossing is critical to maintain healthy gums and teeth. If you don’t brush and floss plaque and bacteria will remain on your teeth and gums. Your body will respond to the bacteria and the toxins they produce in an inflammatory way and your gums will become swollen and tender. When your gums are infected they bleed easily. Gingivitis is the form of gum disease associated with infected and bleeding gums. If gingivitis is left untreated, the chronic infection can lead to a more severe form of gum disease call periodontitis. Periodontitis involves permanent bone loss around the teeth.
An infection in your gums may not be as obvious or as painful as infections in other areas of your body. Though it cannot be seen or felt as easily, it is still an infection and should be addressed to maintain good health. If you had an open wound on your body that was infected and bleeding, would you not be concerned? Most people would seek medical attention for the infected/bleeding wound and would find the time to ensure the area is healed and the body restored to good overall health. So why do people ignore infections in their mouths? There has been plenty of research to show that the bacteria found in the mouth are linked to one’s overall health. Leaving an active infection in your mouth is not healthy. Not only will it affect the health of your teeth and gums, it can also have a significant negative effect on your overall health.
Gingivitis (swollen/infected/bleeding gums) is caused by plaque deposits left in contact with the gum tissue for extended periods of time (What can you do about it? Thankfully, it is usually fairly easy to reverse gingivitis. Unfortunately, if gum disease is allowed to progress to periodontitis the resulting bone loss around the teeth is permanent. Both gingivitis and periodontitis however, are treatable conditions. Bone loss is permanent but if the disease and infection is controlled the bone levels can be maintained and health can be restored and maintained.
- Start out with a dental checkup – if you have calculus (tartar) on your teeth, especially below the gum line, you will not be able to remove it on your own. A thorough debridement by a dentist or dental hygienist of all plaque and calculus will set you on the road to recovery. Keep in mind that if it has been a long time since your last professional cleaning, it may take more than one visit to get the job done thoroughly and completely.
- Once the deposits are removed from above and below the gum line, the infection will begin to clear up – BUT – what you do at home is critical at this point. If you brush and floss properly, the infection usually clears up in about 7 – 10 days. The gums will stop bleeding and become healthy. It simply takes about 5 minutes of prevention a day to maintain healthy gums. Brush twice a day for 2 minutes, and floss once a day – which usually takes a minute
You know what they say – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You are worth it – take 5 minutes a day and invest in your own health!