Road To Better Oral Health: Keeping Your Gums Healthy
While most people worry about having straight teeth or a bright smile, the key to overall oral health includes taking care of your gums. Even if you are cavity-free and have the pearliest choppers in town, that doesn’t guarantee immunity to periodontal disease. Since it’s often painless, most people do not realize that something is already up with their gums.
What is gum disease?
Periodontitis, also generally called periodontal or gum disease, starts with bacterial growth in your mouth. If not properly treated, it may end with tooth loss due to the destruction of the tissue that supports your teeth. While brushing and flossing can get rid of most plaque, it is still important to go for regular teeth cleaning to remove the tartar that forms under the gumline.
Filled with bacteria, this sticky film-like substance called plaque can lead to infections that hurt the gum and bone. It can also cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease, which can make your gums red, swollen, tender, inflamed, and prone to bleeding.
There are a number of risk factors for gum disease, but smoking is the most significant. It can make treatment for gum disease less successful and prolong recovery. Other factors to consider include hormonal changes in women, diabetes, certain medications, dry mouth, and genetic susceptibility. Some illnesses like AIDS also increases the chance for periodontitis.
At a dental visit, a dentist or dental hygienist will examine your gums and look for signs of inflammation. They may use a probe to check for and measure any pockets around the teeth. A healthy mouth should have a depth of between one to three millimeters of these pockets. This test is normally painless.
You will also have to talk about your medical history, so your dentist can take note of other risk factors such as diabetes or smoking. To see if there is bone loss, you might have to take an x-ray. If the problem is beyond the scope of your dentist’s expertise, he or she could refer you to a periodontist. Periodontists are experts in this field and can provide you with more treatment options.
Fortunately, there are several steps you can do to prevent gum disease and damage. Here are some of the most effective ways, as recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA).
Brush Your Gums
It’s not enough to just brush your teeth, you have to include your gums and gumline as well. Give these areas a thorough brushing to remove bacteria and food particles. However, you have to be mindful of the way you do this because brushing harshly can hurt your gums. A better way to brush is to gently wiggle your toothbrush in a circular motion. Consider having an electric toothbrush as it mimics this motion and is a better tool for cleaning your teeth and gums.
Brush Twice A Day
Brushing your teeth and gums after every meal will keep bacteria at bay. Be sure to scrub your tongue gently as well because it can harbor some bacteria. Your toothbrush should have soft bristles and fit your mouth comfortably. If you have a battery-powered or electric toothbrush, swap the heads every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles start to fray.
Flossing takes out particles that get stuck in between the teeth and the gumline. If you don’t remove them, they will build up and damage both your teeth and gums. Along with flossing between the teeth, make sure to reach the space in between each tooth and the gums. Curve the floss into a “C” shape to sweep away at the small pocket above the tooth.
If you haven’t flossed in a while, you might experience a little bit of bleeding. Try to move your floss slowly to avoid this and do not snap it into your gums. Reach for a ribbon floss as it is softer than plastic or nylon, and is less likely to cause bleeding.
Swish With Mouthwash
Gargling with mouthwash doesn’t just freshen your breath, it also discourages plaque and tartar buildup. If you are already suffering from an oral condition, ask your dentist first for your options. Some solutions are more powerful than others and may aggravate certain mouth problems.
Usually available over the counter, therapeutic mouthwashes can help prevent gingivitis, reduce the speed that tarter develops, and remove plaque. Look for the ADA seal, which means that the product has been deemed safe and effective.
Yet another reason for smokers to quit – smoking is highly associated with the onset of periodontitis. Since smoking weakens your immune system, your body will have a harder time fighting off gum infections, say the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The key to gum disease treatment is controlling the infection. The number and types of treatment vary depending on the extent of the damage. Whatever option you choose, you will still be required to keep a good daily care routine at home. Your dental professional may also suggest changing certain behaviors or your diet to improve results.
Your oral hygiene plays a crucial role in preventing gum disease. It is possible to have gum disease and have no warning signs. Be sure to visit your dentist at least twice yearly for a comprehensive checkup and cleanings. Only they can perform advanced techniques to remove plaque and tartar. With the above prevention tips, coupled with having a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet, you are sure to have a lifetime of healthy smiles.
Visit Your Trusted Dentist
Our specialists at Kyrene Family Dentistry can help keep your teeth and gums clean. We provide tips for gum disease prevention and treatment. Our friendly team will guide you in every step of the way toward a better oral health. Feel free to drop by at our dental office in Chandler, AZ, or call us at (480) 705-9005 for your questions. You may also fill out this online form to schedule an appointment.