When the dentist recommends a good at-home oral health routine, most people think about keeping their teeth as white as possible. But gums are just as important to your oral health, and together with proper tooth brushing, taking care of them can prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Here’s how to keep your gums as healthy as possible.
What Do Gums Do Anyway?
The best way to look at gums is as the “skin of your mouth.” Teeth are embedded in the jawbone and gums cover and protect the bone. When your gums are healthy, the gum tissue fits snugly, like a cuff around each tooth. If gums are neglected, periodontal disease can set in. The tissue is then pulled away from the tooth and, as the disease progresses, the bone and tissue that support your teeth are destroyed.
What is Gum Disease?
Plaque is the sticky substance that forms on everyone’s teeth. When it remains there for too long it can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Signs of unhealthy gums include:
- Redness and swelling
- Painful or tender to the touch
- Bleeding during brushing, flossing, or eating
- Pale, white, and/or thin
Early symptoms of gum disease are often mild and easy to ignore. If you notice any of these symptoms, even if they go away, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your dentist.
How to Prevent Gum Disease
Taking good care of your gums doesn’t require a lot of time or effort. Here’s how easy it can be.
- Brush. Nothing does more to prevent oral health problems than brushing your teeth on a regular basis. Twice a day is the bare minimum, but if you can brush after every meal, that’s ideal. Use a soft brush head and gentle circular motion to avoid irritating your gums. Replace your toothbrush every three to four months.
- Floss. Do it just once a day and you’ll remove hard-to-reach plaque. The key is knowing how to floss correctly. The point of flossing is to remove plaque from the sides of your teeth. Use a gentle sawing motion and avoid digging the floss into your gums.
- Quit smoking. Did you know that if you smoke you have twice the risk of developing gum disease? That’s because tobacco can cause sticky deposits on your teeth, an ideal environment for bacteria and plaque buildup.
- Use fluoride toothpaste. No matter which brand of toothpaste you use, make sure it contains fluoride and has the ADA seal of approval.
One of the best ways to prevent gum disease is with regular checkups and cleanings. See your dentist at least once a year and more often if you notice any signs of gum problems.
Nearly half of people over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease, but it can easily be prevented with proper oral hygiene. Not sure if you have gum disease or are at risk of getting it? Schedule an appointment today with Caven Dental to learn if your gums are healthy and the steps you can take to deal with any problems or periodontal disease.