The Secrets to Maintaining Healthy Gums
While your teeth are the first thing people notice when you smile, it’s your gums that are ultimately responsible for your mouth’s overall health. You may have very straight, very white teeth, but if your gums aren’t healthy, your mouth isn’t healthy.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease occurs when plaque builds up along and under the gum line. Plaque is the byproduct of bacteria that live on your teeth. It sticks to your teeth and gums and, if not removed, can cause your teeth to decay and infections in your bones and gums. The earliest stage of gum disease is called gingivitis, and it can cause your gums to become inflamed, red and prone to bleeding. Gingivitis can be reversed, but if it’s left unchecked, it can turn into periodontitis. Periodontitis damages the bones that hold your teeth in place. The next stage, advanced periodontitis, destroys the bones and fibers that support teeth, which often results in the need for teeth to be removed.
How to maintain healthy gums
Preventing gum disease and maintaining healthy gums isn’t difficult. Here are some ways to keep gum disease at bay.
- Floss, floss, floss
We cannot understate the importance of flossing your teeth. It doesn’t matter when you do it, as long as you do it once a day. Floss in the morning, floss at night, floss after lunch. It doesn’t matter as long as you do it daily.
- Brush twice daily
Along with flossing, it’s vital to brush twice each day. Brushing removes plaque and food that’s trapped between your teeth. Be sure to brush your tongue too, as it can harbor bacterial growth.
- Don’t smoke
Smoking is associated with the formation of gum disease. It also weakens your immune system, which makes it more likely that you will develop infections and more difficult to heal from infections once they develop.
- Use toothpaste with fluoride
It doesn’t matter what brand or flavor of toothpaste you use as long as it’s approved by the American Dental Association and it contains fluoride. Using a fluoride-based toothpaste is an important step in preventing gingivitis.
- Drink plenty of water
Not only are sugary drinks bad for your teeth’s enamel, but they can also impact your gums. Instead of opting for sugar-laden sodas and juices, drink plenty of water. Water won’t damage your teeth and it helps rinse away particles of food that become lodged in your teeth after meals.
- Use the right mouthwash
Mouthwash can do much more than just freshen your breath. A therapeutic mouthwash reduces plaque, thereby reducing the chances of developing gingivitis. A mouth rinse will also help remove particles of food from your mouth, but it’s not a substitute for brushing and flossing.
- Get regular exams and cleanings
There’s a reason your dentist wants you to have a cleaning and exam every six months. First, regular cleanings will remove plaque and tartar that can damage your gums. Second, if your dentist sees you regularly, he or she will be able to identify early signs of gum disease and help you deal with the problem early.
- Eat foods that promote good oral health
Some foods actually help clean your teeth. For example, apples help cleanse plaque from your teeth. Just be sure to rinse your mouth with water afterward since apples can be acidic. Fresh ginger root is also good for your mouth. The herb’s anti-inflammatory properties help reduce inflammation in your mouth. And even though raw onions may give you bad breath, they have also been proven to kill four types of bacteria that live in your mouth and cause gum disease and cavities.
Healthy gums are the key to a healthy mouth. Maintaining healthy gums isn’t difficult. It just takes good, overall oral hygiene and common sense. Taking a few simple steps to keep your gums healthy will pay big dividends in your long-term oral health. If you’d like to learn more ways to take care of your gums and mouth, please contact our office.