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Keep Your Gums Happy And Healthy

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

There’s little point in keeping those pearly whites pearly and white while neglecting what’s holding all of them together: your gums. Gum disease doesn’t just lead to painful, sore and bleeding gums; they can also be the root cause of a much more embarrassing problem — bad breath.

There are two main stages of gum diseases: Gingivitis is the earliest stage, a milder and reversible form that only affects the gums. Left untreated, gingivitis may progress to a more severe form of gum disease called periodontitis. Gum disease is caused by the germs in plaque (the sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on teeth). If not removed through daily brushing and flossing, plaque can build up, and harden to form tartar. The germs may then infect not only the gums but also the gum tissue and bone that support the teeth. As this process continues, the teeth become loose. Pockets form between the teeth and gums, allowing more germs to accumulate, causing bad breath.

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is one of the symptoms of gum diseases, and is the first warning sign of periodontitis. Gum diseases usually cause pockets to form between the teeth and gums, providing the perfect breeding ground for germs. These germs under the gums will release foul-smelling sulphur compounds, and, because they’re almost impossible to clean, will very likely result in halitosis.


Bad breath, one of the more embarrassing symptoms of gum disease, was first treated more than 2,000 years ago. It was the Greek physician Hippocrates, known widely as the father of Western medicine, who thought up a simple remedy: a mouth rinse made of herbs and wine, which will sweeten the breath. Even in the 21st century, the problem is still a nagging, and expensive one; Americans spend nearly US$3 billion a year on mints, chewing gum and mouth rinses!

We can almost see you reaching for a pack of gum, but rather than masking the bad breath with minty flavors, it’s more practical to root out the cause altogether, by removing the germs. Visit a dentist for professional advice and observe a basic oral hygiene regimen of brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste (such as Colgate Total), flossing once a day— and try a mouthwash, like Colgate Plax Complete Care.  This has ten benefits in one, including providing protection from germs for up to 12 hours. It’s a two-birds-in-one solution: removing germs will also stave off gum problems. Colgate Freshmint Mouthwash also provides 12-hour protection, and contains fluoride to help prevent cavities.