“Brush your teeth!”
How many times did you hear this growing up? It seems many of us didn’t get the message. A study published in The Journal of the American Dental Association found that 42 percent of people have periodontitis, a form of gum disease. How have we all forgotten this lesson? More importantly, what can you do to enhance gum disease prevention?
Follow these 5 dental hygiene tips based on over 40 years of experience in dental health.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease occurs as bacteria builds up below your gum line. If you do not remove it, the bacteria can cause inflammation and bleeding of the gums (gingivitis).
Eventually, you’ll end up with tooth decay, which in turn can lead to tooth loss and deterioration of the jawbone.
Gingivitis and the Link to Gum Disease
Gingivitis is caused by the build-up of bacteria. If you do not treat gingivitis, it can eventually develop into advanced periodontal (gum) disease. This process happens in stages.
Stage 1: The gum begins to detach from the teeth, which causes small pockets to form.
Stage 2: Food particles collect in the pockets, leading to infections below the gum line.
Stage 3: Toxins begin to eat away at the jawbone and the soft tissue that keeps your teeth in place.
Stage 4: The pockets continue to grow until your teeth become loose. They may fall out eventually.
Stage 5: If your teeth fall out, you may need dentures or dental implants.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gingivitis is the main culprit when it comes to gum disease, but there are other factors that can endanger your teeth.
- Poor oral hygiene – Neglecting to brush your teeth, floss or visit the dentist regularly can lead to gum disease.
- Hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, puberty, menopause, and menstruation.
- Illnesses – Diseases like cancer, HIV, and type II diabetes all affect the immune system, which can weaken your body’s ability to fight gum disease.
- Medications – Prescription drugs that dry out your mouth or effect saliva production can affect your oral health.
- Family history – Sometimes the root cause of gum disease is hereditary, which is not something you can control.
Gum Disease and Your Health
Did you know that oral health impacts your health in general? Researchers have uncovered evidence that links gum disease to an increased risk of other serious conditions, including heart disease and stroke. It can also worsen the symptoms of diabetes, according to WebMD.com.
Why You Should Care About Gum Disease Now
Here’s the other important fact to know about gum disease.
There is no cure.
Once the damage is done, there is little a dentist can do to save your teeth. There are aggressive treatment options such as bone grafting, which can fill in the empty pockets and strengthen your jawbone. This can help provide support for your remaining teeth. However, these procedures are invasive, not to mention, they can be very expensive.
It is also likely you will lose one or more teeth and end up needing dentures or dental implants.
If you neglect your teeth and your oral health, you may end up paying the price later on.
Signs of Gum Disease
Gingivitis is reversible. Unfortunately, advanced periodontitis may not be. How can you know if you might have gum disease?
Here are some gum disease symptoms:
- Consistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
- Separating or loose teeth
- Bleeding gums
- Swollen, tender or red gums
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
5 Tips for Gum Disease Prevention
Top 5 Gum Care Tips:
Brush your teeth
This one should seem obvious. Turns out, your parents were right to nag you about brushing your teeth. Brush your teeth at least twice a day. This will help remove the food, plaque, and bacteria from between your teeth. Make sure to brush your tongue, too, as bacteria gathers there.
A toothbrush with soft bristles is best. Use electric or battery-powered toothbrushes, since these do a good job of getting into places a regular toothbrush might miss. Replace your toothbrush (or the head of an electric toothbrush) every 3-4 months.
Floss every day
It’s not enough to only brush your teeth. Even the best toothbrush can miss particles between your teeth or below the gum line. Floss at least once a day to help remove plaque and food particles.
Visit the dentist
No one really enjoys going to the dentist. However, regular dental checkups are the best way to prevent a serious problem. If you stop gum disease in its tracks now, you will hopefully eliminate the need for invasive (and expensive) oral surgery or dentures/implants.
Visit the dentist 1-2 times a year.
Here’s another reason to kick your tobacco habit. Aside from the increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer, smoking can lead to gum disease. Why? Smoking weakens the immune system, which means your body has a harder time fighting off disease, including periodontitis. It can also make it harder for damaged gums to heal.
Buy therapeutic mouthwash
Some mouthwashes do more than freshen your breath. Certain kinds are considered therapeutic.
According to Healthline.com, therapeutic mouthwashes are designed to:
- Reduce plaque
- Prevent and/or reduce gingivitis
- Reduce the build-up of tartar (or the speed of build up)
- A combination of all three
Your Oral Health Matters
Oral health is not only essential for healthy teeth but a healthy life overall. Follow these 5 steps for gum disease prevention so you have every reason to show off your beautiful smile.
Looking for more ways to protect your health? Check out our latest health-related posts. You can also find information and tips related to lifestyle, relationships, travel, beauty and fashion, and style.