What Are Gums?
You probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about your gums. I mean, why would you? As long as they’re inside your mouth doing their job without causing any problems, you just take them for granted.
But what are gums for? The official answer is that gums, also known as gingiva, are “the tissue that surrounds and protects the teeth and underlying bone.” Basically, your gingiva is the pink fleshy tissue that anchors your teeth in place. Gums also help preserve your teeth, cushioning them from blows by acting as shock absorbers.
In addition to their utilitarian properties, gums also have an aesthetic function. They balance out your smile by covering just the right portion of your teeth.
Gums that have been damaged by disease or physical trauma may appear swollen or discolored. There are also patients who are dissatisfied with the overall look of their gums. Today, these issues can often be remedied with dental surgery.
What Healthy Gums Look Like
Healthy, normal gum tissue tends to have a firm texture. The color of healthy gums will vary, but they’re “typically coral pink or a darker hue within this pigmentation.” Attractive gums have a “pyramidal” shape, following a curved line around the tooth. The gum tissue should fit firmly around the teeth without sagging. It’s also important that no portion of the root is exposed.
Signs You Have Unhealthy Gums
When a patient’s gums are less-than-healthy, there are a number of noticeable indicators. These include:
Swollen Gums — If your gums are swollen, it’s a definite symptom of a more serious issue. The most likely culprit is gum disease, a bacterial infection. It could also be a result of hormonal changes or medicine you’ve been taking. Another potential cause is an abscess, which is a pocket of infection around the base of a tooth. This is a condition that may require extraction if your dentist can’t save the tooth using root canal therapy.
Dark Red Gums — This is usually a sign of a virus or an infection that’s attacking your mouth. Red gums that are accompanied by a white film on your lips and tongue could be an indication that you’re suffering from a fungal infection.
Spots on Gums — If you suffer from red gums and you also have white or yellow sores, you probably have a virus. But if the spots are ulcer-like, it’s probably a bacterial infection.
Bleeding Gums — If your gums bleed, especially when you’re brushing or flossing, it’s likely to be an early symptom of gum disease.
Receding Gums — If your gums begin to “pull away” from your teeth, making your teeth look larger, it’s called gum recession. This can be caused by gum disease, poor oral hygiene, genetics, using too much pressure when brushing, hormones, using a firm-bristled toothbrush, teeth grinding (bruxism) or having a crooked or poorly-aligned bite.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is an infection caused by bacteria that feed on the plaque, tartar, and debris in your mouth. In its early stages, gum disease is referred to as gingivitis — the later, more serious, form of gum disease is called periodontitis.
Gingivitis is relatively easy to treat. But if gum disease is allowed to advance all the way to the periodontitis stage, the results can be devastating. If left untreated, periodontitis will lead to pain, swelling, loose teeth, bleeding, bad breath, and the loss of teeth.
The best way to prevent gum disease is with daily brushing and flossing. It’s also essential to visit your dentist twice a year for a professional cleaning to remove the tartar where dangerous bacteria can thrive. If you notice signs of gum disease, dentists like Dr. Eric Koch feature a variety of effective treatments for all stages of gum disease.
The way your smile looks has serious ramifications for your personal life and your professional career. In fact, your “gums are the foundation to healthy teeth and a beautiful smile.” In order to enhance your smile, your gums shouldn’t be too noticeable, but they shouldn’t be too small, either.
Sometimes, a patient’s gums are too prominent, disrupting the overall aesthetics of their smile. There are also cases where the gums cover up a significant portion of the teeth. Both of these conditions can easily be corrected with periodontal surgery. Today, many patients choose laser gum therapy, which is less painful than traditional types of gum surgery and the recovery time is also much faster.
Healthy Gums and Dental Implants
When a patient loses a tooth, it creates spaces where bacteria can accumulate, leading to gum disease. You can eliminate these spaces and vastly improve your oral health by replacing missing teeth with dental implants. Dr. Richard Assing uses dental implants to replace any number of missing teeth.
Dental implants also enhance gum health by preventing your remaining teeth from shifting position. This eliminates irritation that could otherwise lead to gum disease. If you’re interested in replacing your missing teeth with dental implants, an experienced implant dentist like Dr. Seth Larson can tell you if dental implants are the best way to restore your smile.