It should be a common knowledge that the gums (gingiva) are a very important part of the oral cavity and plays a major role in keeping the mouth and the teeth healthy. Apart from giving you a nice looking, proportionate smile it supports the tooth that it is surrounding. I have seen that most of the patients visiting our clinics are not aware of the importance of their gums, which consequently leads to a number of problems related to it generally called periodontal diseases (gingivitis, periodontitis, periodontal pockets, etc.)
Gums are the visible pink portion of the supporting structures of the teeth. The other parts are the cementum (lies on the root), periodontal ligament and the alveolar bone. Collectively, they are called the Periodontium and they support and surround the teeth. The term periodontium comes from the Greek terms peri-, meaning “around” and –odons, meaning “tooth.” So, basically the disease of the periodontium leads to disease all around the tooth, which consequently on the long run leads to weak/loose/mobile tooth.
To introduce these organs which support your teeth, I will start with the gingiva. These are the pink part visible around your teeth. They are made of cells and gingival fibers which support your teeth. Then there is the Periodontal ligament upon which the teeth rests. This connects the cementum (the cover of the root) with the bone surrounding the teeth called the alveolar bone. It comprises of periodontal fibers which resist the forces acting upon the teeth and also provide sensory input to the brain in cases of excess masticatory forces so that the forces can be checked by you and you will not hurt the teeth or its supporting structures. This also supplies nutrition to the gingiva and the surrounding structures. So, if these fibres are disrupted by the factors I will be mentioning below, the tooth will be loose and mobile, which on the long run might leads to infection, pain, movement of tooth and even necessity of extraction of the involved tooth.
Factors that are detrimental to these structures are the debris, plaque and calculus.
These are generally the result of the food and debris left on the teeth which is not cleaned regularly. This food is processed by the bacteria of the mouth to produce adhesive materials for them to attach to the teeth.
Plaque is a biofilm comprising of bacteria that adhere to the teeth that is not cleaned regularly. If you don’t brush regularly this film forms on the teeth and with time it mineralizes to form calculus. When there is accumulation of plaque, the gingiva gets inflamed, i.e swollen, redden and thus bleeds on brushing or even slightest touch. Thus, regular brushing with the right technique prevents this from happening.
Calculus, the mineralized form of plaque can be above gingiva (supragingival) or beneath the gingiva (subgingival). This usually forms in the areas where the brush does not reach regularly, such as the areas in between teeth, or the inner (lingual) part of the teeth which we usually forget to brush in a hurry. This is hard and is firmly attached to the teeth. We cannot remove this by normal procedures like brushing or flossing. This can only be removed by professional oral hygiene measures like manual or ultrasonic scaling done by a dental hygienist or a dentist.
Even the bad breath that we encounter is due to accumulation of plaque and calculus. Removing them professionally on a regular basis and following the oral hygiene instructions given by the dental hygienist or dentist is the key to healthy gums and thus the teeth.
So, the best method to protect yourself from bleeding, swollen gums, bad breath, weak and moving teeth is through meticulous oral hygiene regularly using proper brushing technique, flossing or other interdental hygiene aids as per professional advice. To be sure of your oral hygiene status you should visit the dental clinic on a regular basis so that your teeth and gums can be properly evaluated and you can be properly advised on the proper brushing and flossing techniques or any other means you require to maintain the oral hygiene properly. Regular visits will definitely prove healthier for your gums and teeth and definitely effective in terms of cost as well.