When we think about oral health and hygiene, naturally we think primarily of teeth â€“ flossing, brushing, and so on. And thatâ€™s totally understandable, since having a bright and healthy smile is a great confidence boost as well as something that helps us look our best.
But how many of us give thought to periodontal health?
Perhaps not enough of us, it seems â€“ with the estimates for the number of people with gum complaints all being quite high. In fact, according to the NHS Choices dental health pages around half the UK adult population has some level of gum disease. And the dental industry site Dentistry has even more challenging news for UK gum health â€“ reporting that four-fifths of people in the UK over the age of 35 have gum problems.
The word periodontal refers to the gums, bone and other supporting tissues around the teeth. And perhaps itâ€™s time â€“ given the prevalence of gum disease â€“ that the level of awareness on this topic was significantly raised.
Research in periodontology thatâ€™s published from time to time often has a distinct theme emerging from what the various results suggest: that there appears to be some form of link between gum health and health overall. To date itâ€™s never been shown to be a causal link â€“ but the fact remains that poor gum health seems to suggest a higher risk for other health issues including diabetes and heart disease.
It could be of course that gum disease tends to be an indicator of poorer health generally, hence the associated higher health risks. But the fact remains that healthy gums seem to go hand in hand with better general health in many cases.
Keeping your gums healthyÂ doesn’tÂ really require any added effort â€“ so if youâ€™re doing all the right things, such as:
- Brushing twice daily for the recommended time and in the right way (paying attention to your gums as well as teeth!)
- Eating a healthy diet
- Keeping within the recommended alcohol intake
- Avoiding smoking
- Visiting the dental hygienist from time to time
â€¦ then youâ€™ll be well-placed to avoid gum disease. But on top of all the good dental practises such as the above, itâ€™s also important to get a check-up, especially if this is something thatÂ you’veÂ allowed to lapse, as many of us do occasionally.
Itâ€™s also worth speaking to your dentist too, especially if you have any concerns about gum health or are looking for further gum health information. Donâ€™t be shy about asking your dentist for advice â€“ she or he should be more than happy to help. In fact, surveys show that the majority people donâ€™t consider consulting their doctor for a number of fairly important things including removal of wisdom teeth, and advice on dental education for their children. It seems that maybe we donâ€™t speak to our dentist enough.
About the Author
Michael blogs on behalf of AXA PPP healthcare dental insuranceÂ on a number of health and nutrition topics.