September is Gum Care Month

Our mouth is the gateway to our body. The foods we eat and the way we care for our mouth can determine our overall health and wellbeing. Poor oral healthcare can lower the quality of life of older adults. This is why it is important to be aware of how oral health problems arise and how they can be treated or prevented entirely.

In honor of Gum Care Month, we would like to focus on the importance of proper gum care for seniors. Poor care of the gums can lead to gingivitis, paving the way for gum disease. Often gum disease goes unnoticed, since it is commonly painless until it has reached an advanced stage. It becomes easier for bacteria to build up as the gums pull away from the teeth and the roots are exposed. This causes swelling and decay. When the swelling and decay are left untreated, tissue that supports our teeth is damaged, leading to tooth loss.

Why does age affect our oral health?

As we age, the ability of our cells to divide and multiply slows down. These cells make up our tissues. As the cells get bigger, our tissues begin to thin out, become less elastic, and start to function abnormally. Our bones also become less dense and strong, and our immune system becomes weaker. All these factors make us more prone to infections in the mouth, receding gums, and losing teeth.

What should we look out for?

  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Sensitivity when brushing
  • Redness or swelling of the gums
  • Receding gum line

What can increase our risk for developing gum disease?

  • Irregular oral hygiene routines
  • Not visiting the dentist regularly
  • Diabetes
  • Dry mouth
  • Weak immune system

We can prevent gum disease by having a consistent and diligent oral hygiene routine. Being gentle when brushing and flossing can also help avoid unnecessary irritation in our mouth. Finally, we can stay on top of our oral health by making sure we visit our dentist regularly for cleanings and exams. This helps catch oral health problems early, preventing symptoms from becoming worse.