Many people have heard of gum disease, but few realize that gum disease is just as common as cavities are. Gum disease occurs when the clear sticky bacteria-filled plaque that forms on the teeth after eating or drinking spreads onto the gum tissue. When this happens, the bacteria cause inflammation and soreness. Without treatment, gum disease can trigger a variety of symptoms including red, swollen and bleeding gums, abscesses, root canal infections, gum recession and even tooth loss. Studies also show that people who have severe gum disease may be more likely to suffer from chronic health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and even some forms of cancer.
Fortunately, if you know how to, it’s relatively easy to prevent gum disease from becoming a problem. We have put together 7 helpful tips on how to manage and prevent gum disease.
Unsurprisingly, brushing your teeth is the best thing you can do to manage and prevent gum disease. Brushing using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste removes plaque from the surface of the teeth and gums, preventing the bacteria from causing damage to the soft tissue and keeping gum disease at bay. When you brush, don’t brush too hard as this could cause damage to the gums and make them recede. Pay close attention to the gumline though, since plaque is most likely to accumulate here.
Flossing can take a little longer than brushing, meaning that many people overlook this step of their oral hygiene routine. However, flossing is crucial as it removes plaque and food debris from the tiny gaps between the teeth where it’s hard for a toothbrush to reach. There are several types of floss you can choose from, from traditional tape to interdental brushes and even water flossers. If you only have time to floss once each day, make it before bed so that any food particles that have got trapped between your teeth in the day are removed before you sleep.
When was the last time you changed your toothbrush? Experts agree that it’s best to change your toothbrush – or in the case of electric toothbrushes, the head of your toothbrush – every three months. However, if your brush starts to lose bristles or fray before this time, it’s probably a sign that you are brushing your teeth too hard. This could cause damage, so it’s best to try and reduce the pressure when you clean them.
Mouthwash that contains fluoride should be used at the end of each brushing session. Fluoride helps to remineralize your teeth, helping to protect them against cavities. Rinsing with mouthwash also helps to wash away any remaining bacteria or food particles that may still be in your mouth.
Scraping your tongue may not sound pleasant, but it’s the best way to remove deposits and bacteria that build up on your tongue each day, and which can cause bad breath and leave a foul taste in your mouth. Cleaning your tongue can eliminate these issues and help prevent gum disease.
Did you know that if you smoke, you are much more likely to suffer from gum disease? This is because smoking causes more plaque and makes it harder for the body to heal itself. Experts state that smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for gum disease so if you smoke, start thinking about quitting right now.
Your dentist is the best person to support you with any oral health problem including gum disease. In fact, your dentist will probably detect signs of gum disease in your mouth before you do, provided that you attend check-ups fairly regularly. If you have early signs of gum disease, your dentist may recommend a treatment called a scale and polish, which is an advanced clean that removes plaque from the teeth and under the gum line. However, there are also other treatments that can be used to counteract the effects of gum disease.
To learn more about how you can prevent gum disease or to schedule an appointment, call our office in Arlington, Virginia at (571) 380-7800.