How to Take Care of your Gums
Gum care is something that is often taken for granted by many. In terms of oral care, a lot of people put a higher focus on their teeth by keeping them white and bright, well-aligned, and free from cavities. People would pay a fortune for the perfect smile, but it’s not always about how good your teeth look that determines how healthy they are.
Excellent oral health starts with healthy gums. Since gum disease is usually painless especially during its early stages, not a lot of people are aware that anything is wrong with their gums until it is too late.
Therefore, it pays to be vigilant when it comes to gum health. Regular visits to your dentist can ensure that you never have to worry about gum diseases later on, but there are also steps you can take at home to keep your gums healthy. Here are some of them:
- Regular flossing
Toothbrushes may not be able to get in between your teeth, but floss can. Flossing at least once a day removes the plaque and food that is stuck between your teeth. It doesn’t really matter when you choose to floss, as long as you do it every day.
- Brushing your teeth at least twice a day
It is important that you brush your teeth after every meal to remove the food that is trapped between your teeth and gums. While you are at it, you should also scrub your tongue to make sure that bacteria does not accumulate in that area. There are lots of toothbrushes with built-in tongue cleaners so you don’t have to purchase a separate tongue cleaner.
Speaking of toothbrushes, it is highly recommended that you pick one that has soft bristles and one that fits in your mouth comfortably. While manual brushing is perfectly fine, investing in a battery-powered or electric toothbrush can help reduce your risk of gingivitis and plaque. Finally, you should also change your toothbrushes every three to four months, or as soon as the bristles start to fray.
- Use toothpaste that has fluoride in it
There are a lot of toothpaste options in the market that claim to reduce or prevent gingivitis, freshen your breath, make your teeth whiter, and other lofty promises. However, if it is healthy gums you are after, make sure to choose one that has fluoride, regardless of the brand. You can be more liberal with the flavor and the color of your toothpaste; it’s the fluoride content that is most important.
Gargle with mouthwash as often as you can
Gargling with mouthwash does more than just freshening your breath. It can also reduce plaque, ease symptoms of gingivitis, reduce the speed of tartar development, and, most importantly, remove food particles and debris from your mouth. Keep in mind though that it should not take the place of brushing or flossing.
- Get regular dental cleaning
Regularly brushing your teeth, flossing, and gargling with mouthwash is not enough if you want to keep your gums healthy. Visiting your dentist as regularly as possible to have your teeth cleaned is key in keeping gum diseases such as gingivitis away. This is because your dentist can easily identify if symptoms of gum disease are present, thereby treating the disease before they become serious. Furthermore, a professional cleaning is the only way to remove tartar and get rid of any plaque you miss during brushing and flossing.
- Quit smoking
Smoking is not only dangerous to your health, it also makes you prone to gum disease. It is strongly associated with the onset of gum disease and weakens your immune system, thus making it harder for your body to fight off a gum infection. It also slows down the process of healing your gums once they have been damaged.
Gum disease and its symptoms
If you fail to follow the items listed above, you are at risk of getting gum disease. Gum disease happens when your gum lines become inflamed and can progress to affect the bone that surrounds and supports your teeth. It can be painless, so it is important to be wary of the common symptoms, including swollen, red, tender, or bleeding gums, as well as gums that recede or move away from the tooth. Watch out for loose teeth, as well as persistent bad breath or bad taste in your mouth. Check for visible pus surrounding your teeth and gums too.
There are three stages of gum disease:
- Gingivitis, the earliest stage, is when your gums get inflamed due to plaque buildup at the gum line. This happens when daily brushing and flossing fails to remove the plaque and it builds up, so it produces toxins that irritate the gum tissue. Gingivitis is also characterized by bleeding gums, which may happen during brushing and flossing. Damage is still reversible during this stage since the bone and connective tissue holding the teeth in place are yet to be affected. It is important to visit your dentist right away when you notice these symptoms.
- Periodontitis is a more advanced stage of gum disease wherein the supporting bone and fibers holding the teeth in place are irreversibly damaged. You will also notice that your gums will start to form a pocket below the gum line that traps food and plaque. While the damage cannot be undone, further damage can be prevented with proper dental treatment and improved home care.
- Finally, there is advanced periodontitis, the final and most severe stage of gum disease, where the fibers and bone supporting your teeth are destroyed, causing your teeth to shift and loosen. Your bite gets affected and if not treated aggressively, may cause your teeth to be removed.
The next time you take oral hygiene lightly, you should remember that gum disease can cause serious problems for you down the road. This is why it is very important that you give your gums the care and attention they deserve. It all starts with frequent brushing and flossing and setting regular appointments with your dentist. As with all other diseases, prevention is always key, so it pays to take your oral health seriously.
Start taking better care of your teeth and gums today
Bad oral hygiene can result in gum disease and other dental problems. If you want to keep your teeth strong and healthy as you age, Kyrene Family Dentistry can provide a wide range of services designed to take care of your teeth, as well as diagnose and treat various dental issues. Call us today at 480-705-9005 or fill out our online form.