Are you paying attention to the other half of your oral care routine — your gums?
Gum disease is the leading cause of early tooth loss. Furthermore, research shows a correlation between gum disease and other conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
There are two types of gum disease:
This is the milder form of gum disease, which causes bleeding, irritation, redness and swelling in the gum tissue. The most common cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene. It can be prevented or reversed with proper brushing, flossing and routine professional cleanings.
This is a serious infection of the gums that occurs when plaque and tartar travel under the gums. To treat periodontitis, we do a deep-cleaning procedure called “scaling and root planing” with subsequent maintenance appointments to ensure the infection does not return.
Some symptoms of gum disease are bleeding or tenderness, gums pulling away from the teeth, consistent bad breath, and separating or loose teeth. Here are some ways to protect your gums before these issues develop:
Be diligent about visiting the dentist regularly. Get prompt attention if you experience tooth sensitivity or notice your gums receding. The sooner your dentist evaluates the problem, the easier it will be to treat.
“Get prompt attention if you experience tooth
sensitivity or notice your gums receding.”
Brush and floss properly. When brushing, use a circular scrub motion with the action of the bristles moving away from the gums. A gentle touch with a soft-bristled toothbrush is best. Brushing too vigorously can damage your gums. When flossing, take care not to snap the floss between the teeth. This could cause trauma to the tissue. To watch short videos of proper brushing and flossing techniques, click here.
Try an antimicrobial mouthwash. Rinses specifically focused on gum care are available over the counter.
Eat a nutritious diet that is low in sugar. Sugary, starchy and acidic foods in excessive amounts may contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. On the other hand, research shows that foods containing calcium, omega-3 and vitamin D are especially beneficial for gum health.
“Sugary, starchy and acidic foods in excessive amounts may contribute
to tooth decay and gum disease.”
Reduce stress. According to studies published in the Journal of Periodontology, increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol has been shown to intensify the destruction of the gums and bone caused by periodontal disease. In addition, if you are under stress, you are less likely to focus on good oral hygiene.
Need another reason to stop smoking? Studies show that people who smoke up to half a pack of cigarettes a day are nearly three times as likely to have periodontitis. That likelihood increases to nearly six times for people who smoke more than a pack and a half per day.