Can Your Toothpaste Give You Healthier Gums?
posted: Oct. 24, 2023.
Toothpaste ads are usually all about the teeth. Cavity-fighting benefits. Whiter smiles. Reducing tooth sensitivity. But lately, we’re also hearing a lot about toothpastes which are formulated to clean, renew, and repair our gums. Maybe it’s time to consider whether a tube of gum-healthy toothpaste should be your new main squeeze.
Gum Health Affects Our Overall Health
According to the CDC, almost half of all adults over the age of 30 suffer from gum disease—and the percentages get even higher with age. And, just like tooth decay, gum disease is most commonly caused by bacterial plaque.
Plaque is a biofilm made up of saliva and food particles and millions of bacteria. Within hours after we’ve brushed and flossed, this sticky substance starts forming again on teeth and around the gum line.
Gingivitis, or early gum disease, occurs when plaque around the gum line irritates gum tissue, causing inflammation. You’ve probably noticed some symptoms of inflammation if you’ve ever neglected your brushing and flossing routine for even a day or two. Gums become red, or swollen, or tender, or bleed easily.
Careful attention to brushing and flossing is essential to prevent gingivitis and to reverse early symptoms. That’s because, left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, a serious gum disease.
The bacteria in plaque produce toxins, which our immune systems react to with inflammation. Over time, this inflammation response causes the breakdown of the bone and ligament tissue which hold our teeth in place. Once-snug gum tissue starts to pull away from the teeth, creating pockets around the teeth where more bacteria collect. This leads to infection and further loss of bone and tissue.
Infection, loose teeth, and lost teeth cause chronic pain, difficulty eating and speaking, and alterations in facial appearance. And it’s not just our oral health which can be affected by gum disease. Studies have found connections between gum disease and other inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease, and between gum disease and medical conditions such as xerostomia (dry mouth) and diabetes.
How Toothpastes Can Help Prevent Gum Disease
We already know that dentists recommend fluoride toothpaste because fluoride prevents cavities. Fluoride bonds with the calcium and phosphate ions in our tooth enamel, repairing weak spots. Even better, this new bond is stronger and more cavity-resistant than enamel alone.
When it comes to preventing gum disease as well as fighting cavities, though, not all fluoride formulas are the same. The common go-to ingredient in gum-healthy toothpastes is stannous fluoride. Like the more commonly used sodium fluoride, stannous fluoride reduces the risk of cavities and strengthens tooth enamel. And more! Studies have shown that stannous fluoride:
- Has anti-microbial agents which reduce the number of gingivitis-causing bacteria
- Disrupts plaque formation
- Continues working to reduce plaque levels even after brushing.
Because inflammation caused by bacterial plaque buildup is the most common cause of gingivitis, it makes sense that toothpastes which reduce bacteria and plaque can also reduce gum inflammation and gingival bleeding when used regularly.
But Toothpaste Can’t Do It All!
No matter which paste you use, you still need to be proactive with your dental health.
- Brush at least two minutes, at least twice each day, to stop plaque buildup. And use proper technique. Angle the brush toward the gums to gently clean around and below the gum line.
- Floss at least once a day. Flossing really does remove plaque between teeth and near the gum line which your toothbrush won’t.
- Use a soft-bristled brush. It protects both delicate gum tissue and strong enamel from abrasion.
- Keep up with your regular professional cleanings.
- For specialized periodontal treatment, make an appointment at our Algonquin, Illinois periodontal office.
If you have sensitive, inflamed, or bleeding gums, or if you have any worries about your gum health, don’t take advice from a toothpaste carton.
Talk to the doctor about the best toothpaste for your specific dental needs. Whether it’s a recommendation for a specific kind of toothpaste or rinse, prescription medication, or more advanced periodontal treatment such as deep cleaning procedures or gum surgery, we have the treatment options to help you keep your gums their healthiest!