Bacteria can be detrimental to your oral hygiene, especially for your gums. When bacteria in the form of plaque build up around your teeth and gums, your gums can become red and swollen. Periodontal disease, or gum disease, can cause bone structure deterioration if gums are left inflamed and untreated.
Fortunately, periodontal disease can be prevented with proper dental care. At Rhoades Family Dentistry, we want our patients and families to know the basics of gum care to help prevent periodontal disease. Here are our key tips for maintaining your gum health.
1. Proper Brushing Techniques
You probably already know that brushing your teeth is an important part of your daily routine. Brushing helps remove plaque buildup between your teeth and gums, preventing bacteria from becoming cavities, gum disease, and other significant dental problems.
You should brush your teeth at least twice a day or after every meal. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid access scrubbing and pressure on your gums. When brushing, you’ll want to be as gentle as possible to avoid gum bleeding. Too much pressure on the gums can also cause structural damage by weakening the gums over time.
Place your toothbrush at the gum line at a 45-degree angle, so half of the brush cleans your teeth while the other half cleans your gums. Gently move the brush back and forth in short strokes, and make sure to brush all surfaces of your teeth, including outer, inner, and chewing surfaces. You’ll also want to brush your tongue to get rid of any bacteria there.
You should change your toothbrush out every three to four months or if the bristles start to fray. It’s also important to store your toothbrush upright to keep it germ-free. Routinely covering your brush in a closed container promotes the growth of germs and bacteria.
Along with toothbrushing, use fluoride toothpaste and consider rinsing with mouthwash. The combination of brushing and rinsing can help to remove food particles from your mouth and reduce gingivitis and tartar development.
2. The Importance of Flossing
We recommend flossing at least once a day. Flossing removes food and plaque that’s beyond your toothbrush’s reach, like between your teeth and gums. Keep in mind that the timing of when you floss during the day doesn’t really matter—it’s more important to do it. But be sure that you are flossing before you brush.
3. Lifestyle Changes
There are many lifestyle changes to take into consideration to prevent periodontal disease. Factors such as age, diet, genetics, and smoking can all increase your risk of developing gum disease. By making healthy choices day-to-day, you can keep your gums healthy.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Foods with high amounts of sugar and carbohydrates can wear down the enamel on your teeth due to higher acidity levels. While it may be impossible to avoid sugar altogether, reducing sugar intake and knowing what foods are good or bad for your teeth can make a big difference for your oral health.
Eating healthy, nutritious foods can help to strengthen your immune system and fight off harmful bacteria in your mouth. Hard and fibrous foods, like raw vegetables, can even help to clean and stimulate your teeth and gums. Other healthy foods that are good for your teeth include dairy products, salmon, almonds, kale, and broccoli. These healthy choices are excellent sources of calcium.
It’s also important to stay hydrated by consistently drinking water every day. Water is a great energy source for your body and keeps your mouth hydrated. A dry mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria and bad breath, so staying hydrated can decrease your chance of developing periodontal disease.
Take Your Vitamins
Many vitamins are beneficial to your dental health. Taking calcium supplements can reduce the chances of developing severe gum disease and strengthen your jawbones. Vitamin C is helpful for your immune system, allowing your body to fight off bacteria more effectively. Vitamin D helps to minimize gingivitis by reducing inflammation and bleeding between gums.
Having too much stress in your life can affect your gum health. Stress weakens the immune system, making it more difficult to fight off bacteria from plaque. If you’re not getting enough relaxation, you should try eliminating sources of stress in your life and incorporating self-care and rest into your daily routine.
Avoid Smoking and Tobacco
Smoking and tobacco use are associated with the onset of gum disease. Once your gums have been damaged, smoking makes it more difficult for them to heal. Excessive smoking, tobacco use, and drinking can also drain your body of essential vitamins and minerals.
The use of tobacco and smoking can cause more tartar to build up on your teeth, leading to infection and eventually periodontal disease if the damage is not reversed early on.
4. Schedule Yearly Teeth Cleanings
It’s important to go to the dentist every six months to a year to get checked for gum damage, gingivitis, or early signs of periodontal disease. Your dentist can check for gums that are tender, inflamed, red, or swollen and help to reverse any early damage before the symptoms become more serious.
Professional teeth cleanings are the only way to remove tartar from your teeth, as well as get rid of plaque you may have missed while brushing or flossing. Teeth cleanings can reverse gingivitis, so it’s essential to see your dentist if you’re experiencing swollen or bleeding gums, persistent bad breath, loose teeth, receding gums, or pus pockets between your teeth and gums.
Periodontal disease can wreak havoc on your dental health. Proper gum care, daily lifestyle changes, and regular dental checkups can all help in preventing periodontal disease and other gum damage from occurring.
If you’re looking for a family dentist, Rhoades Family Dentistry is here for you. We specialize in all general dental services, including periodontal therapy, preventative maintenance, and gum care. Contact us today at 913-782-8900 to schedule an appointment.