Gum disease affects approximately half of all Americans. While that’s a startling statistic, what’s more notable is that most cases are preventable. The good news is that preventative care is simple and, by taking care of your smile daily, you can ensure you don’t become part of the statistic above.
Understanding Gum Disease
Gum disease starts when plaque builds up under and along the gum line. Plaque is a sticky film-like substance that’s filled with bacteria. It can cause infections that hurt the gum and bone, leading to gum disease and tooth decay. Plaque also can cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease.
However, some symptoms eventually emerge. If they are addressed when they first appear, it is possible to treat and prevent gum disease from returning. Symptoms include:
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- A receding gum line
- Loose or separating teeth (as the gums pull away from the teeth)
- Consistent bad breath
- Sores in the mouth
Six Ways to Prevent Gum Disease
Oral health begins at home. You won’t just wake up one day with a severe case of periodontal disease. Gum disease progresses over time, which means that good oral hygiene can go a long way in preventing it from reaching an irreversible stage.
Here are six simple ways to take care of your gums and help prevent gum disease:
Brush for at Least 2 Minutes Twice Daily — Brush with fluoridated toothpaste in the morning and the evening. Take special care along the gum line to remove any food and bacteria. If you have trouble keeping track of time, you may want to invest in an electronic toothbrush with a built-in timer.
Floss at Least Once Daily — Floss removes food and bacteria that brushing can’t, preventing the formation of plaque and related gum health issues. If you struggle with traditional floss, you may opt for an interdental cleaner or water pic.
Use a Mouthwash — Mouthwash, in combination with brushing and flossing, helps reduce plaque buildup, thereby preventing gum irritation.
Eat a Healthy Diet — Avoiding starchy and sugary foods helps decrease plaque and the potential for gum disease.
Common Dental Problem Correction — Improper fillings, grinding, and other common dental issues can increase the risk of gum disease. Proactively correcting problems like these will decrease the risk of gum disease.
Professional Cleanings — Even if you brush and floss regularly, you may not remove all the plaque, especially around the gumline. Plaque can harden into a rough, porous deposit called calculus or tartar. Once hardened, it can be removed only in the dental office during your regular cleaning.
By taking steps to understand, recognize, and prevent gum disease, you can enjoy a healthy smile, gums included!
Our Jacksonville, FL dentists are dedicated to helping patients maintain healthy smiles by offering teeth cleanings and other preventive dentistry services. Call JR Dental at (904) 786-5850, or make an appointment today.