Published: Jan 17, 2014 | By: Richard Caven
It's a widely held belief that if you want something to last, you must first start by building it on a solid foundation. For firsthand proof of this universal truth, you need look no farther than the inside of your very own mouth. Without the support of healthy gums, your teeth and overall dental health can become compromised beyond repair. As is true in almost everything, a good offense is your best defense to healthy teeth and gums.
So, what kind of things can you do to proactively protect and improve your gum health? For starters, there's the obvious, tried-and-true approach of brushing your teeth twice a day along with flossing at least once daily. While you're probably doing a good job with brushing your teeth, we can't overemphasize enough the exponential dental health gains that can come with the addition of routine flossing. If you're already flossing at least once a day, consider flossing with that second brushing for good measure.
By just brushing alone, you can miss plaque-producing bacteria that finds its way into the tight nooks and crannies between your teeth and gums. The kind of interdental cleaning that comes with flossing stands a better chance of removing plaque before it turns into tartar, which can only be removed with professional instruments and cleaning. For an even more effective technique, try flossing before brushing so that the fluoride in your toothpaste stands an even better chance of working more efficiently after you've flossed away bacteria-carrying inhibitors. You should remember to be extra diligent around hard to clean spaces like crooked teeth, fillings, crowns, and bridges.
Some tartar will inevitably remain, and coming in for your regular cleaning at least once a year will help ensure that it is removed before it builds up and leads to tooth decay. At Caven Dental, we encourage our patients to have their teeth cleaned every six months to reduce the potential for deeper root cleanings that increases with less frequent cleanings.
Flossing helps keep gums healthy by preventing gingivitis and periodontitis, two conditions that can discolor your teeth, cause bad breath, and ultimately affect your dental health to the extent that you risk losing the underlying bone structure and, eventually, your teeth themselves. Not only are these effects unsightly and painful, they can also be expensive to fix - much, much more than the cost of a lifetime supply of floss!
Fortunately, gingivitis can be reversed, but if left untreated will lead to periodontitis, which cannot. Blood in the saliva, bleeding while brushing and/or flossing, and red and/or swollen gums can all signal the onset of gingivitis. In most cases, your gums will recover within a couple of weeks through the recommended brushing and flossing regimen, mentioned above.
Tobacco use increases the risk of periodontal disease (another good reason to give it up!), and if you're a smoker, chances are that the capillaries in your gums could also become constricted to the extent that they won't bleed as a warning sign before irreversible damage has already been done.
While we know it's easier said than done, cutting down on your intake of sugary foods is, of course, your best approach to reducing the potential for problems that can lead to gum disease in the first place. In addition to the all-important brushing and flossing, over the counter and pharmaceutical plaque-removing mouthwashes are also effective at keeping your gum health in check if used at least once a day.
If you want to know more about how you can improve your gum health, come in and let Dr. Caven answer your questions and tell your more.
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