Gum disease prevention

5 Ways to Prevent Gum Disease

What is gum disease? Gum disease is a bacterial infection that can have serious repercussions not only for your gums, but for your whole mouth. It comes in two forms—gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the milder form and can result in gums that are tender and bleed easily. If left unchecked, it can advance into periodontitis and your teeth may actually fall out!

Fortunately, there are immediate steps you can take for long-term protection from gum disease. Our five ways to prevent gum disease are:

  1. Brushing your teeth
  2. Flossing at least once a day
  3. Rinsing with mouthwash
  4. Establishing your risk
  5. Scheduling a comprehensive periodontal evaluation

Gum disease is a much more serious problem than many realize. By following our tips, you’ll be ensuring healthy smiles for you and your family for years to come!

Raising Awareness with National Gum Care Month

Gum disease is a much bigger issue than you may think. According to Penn Dental Medicine:

The #1 reason for us is that periodontitis is the most common cause of teeth falling out.  Not counting wisdom teeth, the average person ages 20-39 is missing one tooth, the average 40-49-year old is missing 3.5 teeth, and those aged over 60 are missing 8 teeth– and this is usually because of gum disease.

– Penn Dental Medicine

That’s why we’re so passionate about National Gum Care Month. It helps us raise our patients’ awareness about gum health, the threats they face, and what they can do to protect themselves and their loved ones. 

Be on the lookout for symptoms such as:

  • Gums that are tender
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Receding gums

These are key indicators of gum disease. However, your dental care professional is best-equipped to diagnose and treat the condition. You only have one mouth, so it’s best to do everything you can to take care of it!

1. Brush Your Teeth

Brushing your teeth is essential for fighting gingivitis, periodontitis, as well as maintaining your overall oral health. But you should also know that more goes into brushing your teeth than a couple of quick scrubs. 

When brushing your teeth, make sure that you’re:

  • Keeping the brush head at a 45-degree angle to your gums
  • Use gentle strokes back and forth
  • Brush the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of your teeth
  • Hold a vertical angle with up-and-down strokes when brushing the inside of your teeth
  • Brush for two minutes twice a day

Choosing the best toothbrush for your mouth is also important. When selecting a toothbrush, choose one with: 

  • Soft bristles
  • Rounded bristles
  • ADA approval

For adults, it also helps to choose a toothbrush with a brush head that’s one inch tall and half an inch wide. Talk to your dentist about the best size for children. Deciding between a manual or an electric toothbrush is largely a personal choice. On the other hand, your dentist may recommend one or the other depending on your situation.

2. Floss at Least Once a Day

Like brushing your teeth twice a day or two minutes, flossing at least once per day is another basic part of oral hygiene that will help protect your mouth from gum disease. Many people either forget to floss or simply choose not to do it. They see it as an inconvenience or an annoyance, but they’re wrong.

Flossing is incredibly important since it reaches places your toothbrush can’t—namely between your teeth. When you floss, you’re removing food particles and bacteria that can eventually turn into cavities, gingivitis, and eventually periodontitis. It also removes plaque. If left untreated, this substance can eventually turn into tartar which can only be removed by your dentist.

Some people have compared starting flossing to quitting smoking, but there’s no reason to be nervous! All you need to do is:

  1. Cut around 18 inches of dental floss from the spool
  2. Wrap each end around your middle fingers
  3. Hold the floss tightly between your thumb and index finger
  4. Leave about an inch of space between them
  5. Gently slide the floss between your teeth and hold it tightly to the side of one tooth
  6. Slide the floss up and down as you press it gently against your tooth

The importance of flossing can’t be stressed enough. By getting yourself and your family in the habit of flossing, you’ll be setting yourselves up for a lifetime of gum disease-free oral health!

3. Rinse with Mouthwash

Mouthwash is a liquid that you swish in your mouth to kill any harmful bacteria that brushing and flossing may miss. Think of them as the cherry on top of the oral health Sunday. Depending on the brand’s formula, they can kill unhealthy bacteria, prevent cavities, and freshen your breath.  

Also known as oral rinses, different brands of mouthwash can have different directions for maximum effectiveness. While there can be differences, there are still a few common rules you can follow to ensure that you get the most out of your mouthwash.

  1. Brush and floss first
  2. Pour the recommended amount into the cap or a cup
  3. Swish for the recommended amount of time
  4. Gargle the mouthwash for around 30 seconds
  5. Don’t swallow

Mouthwash can be a wonderful tool in your fight against gum disease. Talk to your dentist or hygienist if you’re not sure what to choose. They’re sure to have great suggestions for your oral health goals.

4. Establish Your Risk

Your chances of developing gum disease depend on more than not brushing, flossing, or using mouthwash. Other variables can play an important role in developing the condition. This can include:

  • Genetics
  • Stress
  • Age
  • Tobacco use
  • Medications
  • Poor nutrition
  • Obesity
  • Bruxism

Other medical conditions can affect your chances of developing the condition, as well. Health problems that interfere with your body’s inflammatory system are particularly problematic. These include diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and cardiovascular disease. Talk with your health team about your risk and what you can do to prevent gum disease!

5. Schedule a Comprehensive Periodontal Evaluation

Starting in 2011, the American Academy of Periodontology began recommending that all adults get a comprehensive exam to evaluate their gum, or periodontal, health. CPE for short, a comprehensive periodontal evaluation looks at your:

  • Gums
  • Teeth
  • Bone structure
  • Plaque buildup
  • Risk factors

Working with your dental health team, you’ll be able to catch gum disease before it starts or stop it from spreading. With nearly half of the American population suffering from some form of gum disease, this extra step is sure to help protect your smile or years to come.

Gum disease is a much bigger threat than you may think. Fortunately, it can be prevented with a  few simple steps. You can start by brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing at least once per day. Use mouthwash to clean up whatever your toothbrush and floss may miss. You should also establish your risk factors and try to live a healthier lifestyle. Finally, schedule a CPE with your dentist and get one annually to ensure your gum health.

Knoxville Family Dental has two locations in Knoxville to better serve you. You can call Knoxville West at (865) 691-1121 or you can schedule an appointment online. To make an appointment with Knoxville East, call (865) 544-1711 or make an appointment online.

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