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Why Having Healthy Gums is SO Important


As part of National Gum Care Month in September, Dr. Karen Harriman and her dental team in Falls Church want to help you understand the importance of your gums and the role they play in your overall oral health.


Your gums refer to the tissue that surrounds and supports your teeth and they are crucial to ensuring your teeth stay in place. Periodontal disease, which is commonly referred to as gum disease can vary in severity, however, if left untreated can cause dangerous consequences to both the health and esthetics of your teeth as you could experience tooth and bone loss. Just like a building needs strong foundations, your teeth do too.


What Causes Gum Disease?

Gum disease is caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms continuously on your teeth.


What is Gingivitis?

Mild gum disease, known as gingivitis is a common but easily rectified stage of gum disease. You may experience bleeding gums and some pain. It’s important to understand the symptoms of this so you can visit your dentist before it becomes more serious. Severe periodontal disease can also lead to much larger problems such as diabetes or stroke.


Is Gum Disease Common?

Periodontal disease is an extremely common problem in the US, with almost half of people over 30 suffering from gum disease.


How Can You Keep Your Gums Healthy?

Follow Dr. Harriman’s three-step guidance on how to reduce the likelihood of developing gum disease:


  1. Regular Brushing and Flossing: It’s important to brush and floss your teeth after every meal (or at least in the morning and before bed) in order to remove excess plaque. Flossing catches anything that is missed during brushing, particularly in between the teeth, which is more than 30% of your tooth’s surface area, so it’s important not to miss this step.

  2. Visit the Dentist: Once you experience pain or bleeding gums, you may already have gum disease, so it’s important to visit our dental office in Falls Church at least twice a year so we can provide professional cleaning and so that we can spot any signs of gum disease early.

  3. Make Healthy Choices: Smoking and having a poor diet are generally not recommended for your overall health anyway, but they are particularly harmful to your dental health. Making healthy choices can decrease the risk of periodontal disease.


What Are The Symptoms of Gum Disease?

Remember the earlier you catch the signs of gum disease, the more likely it is that we can help you reverse the problem. Look out for these types of symptoms:

  • Tender or bleeding gums

  • Red or swollen gums

  • Painful chewing

  • Loose or sensitive teeth

  • Gums that have pulled away from your teeth (receding gums)

Make your dentist appointment with Dr. Karen Harriman at our Falls Church dental practice today to ensure your gums are healthy and strong!