Last time you noticed your smile, you were probably paying attention to your teeth. But what about the structures that make your entire smile possible? Our gums are incredibly important, but they often play second fiddle to our enamel - mainly because they're not as apparent when we smile.

Just because you don't see your gums doesn't mean they aren't a big part of your life. Not only is gum health tentatively linked to whole body health, but gum disease can be debilitating and disfiguring. This post will help you learn more about why your gums are secret dental weapons, and what you can do to keep them in top shape.

Why Our Gums Are So Crucial

  • Appearance - Your smile is a perfect balance of tooth display and gum display. If your gums recede, they'll throw off that balance, making your smile look overly toothy and not quite right. Gum disease damages gum tissue, and changes your appearance long-term.
  • Health - While studies are ongoing, some have linked gum health to systemic health, with potential correlations between periodontitis and heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and more. You give yourself the best possible chance of staying healthy if you keep your gums strong and disease-free.

  • Tooth support - Your teeth would be nowhere without the periodontal tissues. They protect tooth roots, support your bite, and help keep everything where it belongs.

Spot Signs of Gingivitis At Home


There are a few different levels of gum disease, with the earliest being gingivitis. This is an inflammation of the gums. Once they're swollen, it's easier for them to become infected - causing more serious periodontitis to lurk just around the corner.

Staying vigilant to spot gingivitis is the best course of action. The sooner you can receive treatment, the less involved that treatment will need to be - for some patients, they can actually resolve their gingivitis at home with renewed oral hygiene and a careful plan of attack. The problem? Gingivitis doesn't always show dramatic symptoms that you can easily notice. That's why it's imperative that you schedule dental exams every six months. By getting yourself into the office, you give Dr. Okamura a chance to monitor your gumline and look for areas of concern.

Just in case your gingivitis is symptomatic, here's what to look out for:

  • Swelling
  • Softer than usual gums
  • Changing gum line / receding gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Dark red or purple gums
  • Bad breath

Taking Extra Steps toward Periodontal Protection

Pack of dental floss

Floss is your friend!

As with all things dental, for gingivitis, prevention is the best bet. With a few simple tweaks to your daily oral hygiene and consistent exams, you should be able to keep periodontal disease at bay. Make sure to embrace the following:

  • Floss! Flossing helps remove bacteria and food particles from the gum line, and strengthens the gums to protect them against inflammation. Floss once a day, before brushing. If you struggle to remember to floss, put a reminder on your bathroom mirror or in your phone.

  • Electric toothbrush - If you're experiencing plaque buildup and frustrated with the oral hygiene process, try using an electric toothbrush. These are more efficient at removing plaque before it builds and hardens.
  • Ask about a mouthwash - Feel like you need an extra boost? Ask us for a mouthwash recommendation. An antiseptic mouthwash could help keep harmful bacteria from remaining in the mouth and irritating your gum tissue.

Best Way to Prevent Gum Disease & Gingivitis

As we mentioned earlier, make sure to schedule a dental exam every six months so that Dr. Kim can watch for signs of gingivitis. Time to schedule? Contact us online or at (206) 362-3200.

Dr. Kim Dr. Kim

Dr. Kim Okamura

I'm Dr. Kim Okamura and this blog is a product of my love of dentistry. I dedicate it to all the patients I have served so that they may better understand my craft. The information here will give you and others the power to maintain and protect one of your most priceless gifts ... your SMILE.