When brushing those pearly whites, it’s important not to forget about your gums. In fact, taking care of your gums is just as essential for maintaining good oral health as brushing or flossing. It is easy to forget to take care of your gums, but we are here to help. So let’s start by brushing up on how to have healthy gums and ways to avoid that pesky gum disease.
Gum Disease 101
Your gums are a vital part of your mouth, but if you don’t take care of them, you may develop gum disease. An estimated 47.2% of adults 30 and over have some form of periodontal disease, the technical term for gum disease. This number increases as we get older, with around 70.1% of adults over 65 having some form of periodontal disease.
Gum disease is an infection of the tissues and bones that support your teeth. In its early stages, gum disease may not cause any symptoms. However, as the condition progresses, you may start to experience:
- Bleeding after brushing or flossing
- Gums that are swollen, red, tender, or receding
- Bad breath that won’t go away
- Loose teeth
- Teeth that seem to be shifting
- Pain in your jaw
The last stage of gum disease is called advanced periodontitis. Advanced periodontitis occurs when plaque develops below your gum line, and bacteria in the plaque attacks the bone and fibers that support your teeth. This causes gums to pull away from your teeth, which may lead to bone and tooth loss.
Risk Factors of Gum Disease
Several factors can increase your risk of developing gum disease. Some of which include:
- Poor dental hygiene
- Female hormone changes
Gum disease typically begins with the formation of plaque on your teeth. Plaque is a sticky film that forms when bacteria and food particles come together. If plaque is not removed daily through brushing and flossing, it may lead to the earliest stage of gum disease, called gingivitis.
Tips for Taking Care of Your Gums
While gum disease may sound worrisome, the good news is using these simple tips can significantly reduce your risk of developing gum disease and help you maintain healthy gums for a lifetime.
Choose The Right Toothbrush
When brushing your teeth, a soft-bristled toothbrush is best for cleaning your gums. Bristles that are too stiff can cause gum recession and damage the enamel on your teeth. When looking to reduce plaque build-up, consider using an electric toothbrush as they are more effective at removing plaque than manual brushes. Don’t forget to change out your toothbrush every three months or sooner if the bristles become frayed.
Brush Your Teeth at Least Twice a Day
Brushing your teeth each day is the bare minimum to maintain good oral health. However, for healthy gums, you should brush your teeth at least twice a day and after any meal. This will help you eliminate any food particles that may be stuck in your gums and help prevent plaque from forming.
Don’t forget to brush your tongue. Bacteria can build up on your tongue, leading to bad breath and an increased risk of tooth decay.
Use Toothpaste with Fluoride
Fluoride is a natural mineral that helps prevent tooth decay. When brushing your teeth, look for toothpaste with the ADA seal of approval. These kinds of toothpaste contain the right amount of fluoride to help prevent cavities without being harmful if swallowed.
Don’t Forget to Floss
Flossing at least once a day is another critical part of oral care. Flossing helps remove plaque and bacteria between your teeth and below the gum line where a toothbrush can’t reach. This will help you prevent the formation of plaque and tartar (calcified plaque), which can lead to gum disease. In addition, using a water flosser in conjunction with regular flossing can help you remove more tartar and food particles than flossing alone.
Use Mouthwash as the Final Touch
Mouthwash is often overlooked when it comes to oral care. However, using mouthwash can do wonders for your gums. Mouthwash can help kill bacteria and reduce plaque, leading to healthier gums. Look for mouthwashes that contain fluoride and ADA-approved ingredients. Using mouthwash is a great way to top off your oral care routine and keep your gums healthy.
Foods for Healthy Gums
As we know, sweets and carbonated beverages are not good for your teeth, but you may not know that there are foods you can eat to help your gums. Consider adding these foods for healthy gums into your diet:
- Fibrous fruits and vegetables: Food such as apples, celery, and carrots contain lots of fiber. Eating these foods can help clean your teeth naturally.
- Green and black teas: These teas are rich in polyphenols, antioxidants that can help reduce plaque and prevent the formation of cavities.
- Cheese, yogurt, and milk: Dairy products such as cheese, yogurt, and milk are high in calcium, which can help strengthen your teeth and reduce the risk of gum disease.
While these at-home tips can help you maintain healthy gums, visiting your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings and checkups is always important. If you want to prevent or treat gum disease, ChildSmiles•FamilySmiles can help.
ChildSmiles•FamilySmiles specializes in providing quality dental care for children and families. We offer a variety of services to help you maintain healthy teeth, gums, and overall oral health. Request an appointment today and be on your way to healthy gums!