While you may think that your dentist only pays attention to your teeth, they are actually also concerned with your gums. In fact, gum disease is one of the main dental issues that your dentist is hoping to prevent with regular dental exams and preventative dentistry. This is because gum disease is extremely common in Americans over the age of 30, with the CDC estimating that 47.2% of the population is affected by some type of gum disease.
There are two different types of gum disease. The first type is a mild form known as gingivitis, which can cause symptoms like red gums, gum recession, and gums that bleed easily. Since gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease, it usually responds well to treatment and the effects can be reversed. The second type, known as periodontitis, is more serious since it is the advanced form of the disease. With periodontitis, you may experience gum pain, swelling, tenderness, gum recession, and loose teeth. Unfortunately, periodontitis cannot be reversed with treatment, however treatment is necessary to prevent it from getting worse.
In order to protect your gums from gum disease, there are a few things you can do to improve your gum health, such as:
Brush Twice a Day
While brushing twice a day is important for removing plaque from the surface of your teeth in order to reduce the risk of tooth decay, brushing also removes plaque from along the gum line and can help reduce the risk of gum disease. Not to mention, brushing twice a day for two minutes at a time removes the bacteria responsible for causing gum disease.
Flossing is also necessary to remove plaque and bacteria from places your toothbrush cannot reach. Flossing is especially important to your gum health because it removes bacteria from along the gum line, where it can cause gum disease. However, it is recommended to only floss once a day to prevent gum irritation. Since you should only be flossing once a day, it is preferable to floss at night just before you brush your teeth and go to bed. This allows the fluoride from your toothpaste to move into hard to reach areas.
Another way to keep your mouth clean and remove excess bacteria is to use over the counter mouthwashes. Mouthwash has been used to decrease the risk of gum disease because it prevents plaque and tartar from accumulating on the teeth.
Have Your Teeth Cleaned
Every six months, you will need to visit your dentist for a professional teeth cleaning. During a professional teeth cleaning, special tools are used to remove plaque, as well as plaque that has hardened into tartar. While brushing and flossing can remove plaque, tartar can only be removed using dental cleaning tools. In some cases, your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings, especially if you are at an increased risk for gum disease.
Smoking cigarettes significantly increases the risk that you will develop gum disease. Not only that, but smoking inhibits the body’s immune system and makes it harder for the gums to heal. This means that once gum disease starts, it will progress rapidly.