Did you know that gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults in the United States? It’s a serious problem, and one that we should all be working to prevent. September is National Gum Care Month, and in honor of that, we’re going to talk about ways to improve gum health. In this blog post, we will discuss gum disease, as well as some easy ways to improve gum health and help keep your smile healthy for years to come!
Gum Disease: The Basics
Gum disease is an infection of the gums and other supportive tissues around the tooth. There are two different types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis.
- Gingivitis is the most common type, and it is characterized by red, swollen gums that bleed easily. Gingivitis is caused by plaque, a sticky film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva. Plaque forms on the teeth at the gum line, and if it isn’t removed through daily brushing and flossing, it can harden into tartar. Tartar is much harder to remove than plaque and can only be removed by a professional teeth cleaning.
- Periodontitis is a more serious form of gum disease. In addition to red, swollen gums that bleed easily, periodontitis also causes the gums to pull away from the teeth (recede), resulting in pockets of infection. Periodontitis also affects the cementum, periodontal ligament, and alveolar bone, and can eventually lead to tooth loss if it isn’t treated.
Ways to Improve Gum Health
One of the most important things to remember about gum disease is that it is completely preventable. In order to prevent gum disease, here are some tips:
Brush Your Teeth Twice a Day
Brushing your teeth is one of the most important things you can do for your oral health. Be sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day, and use fluoridated toothpaste. You should also use a toothbrush with soft bristles to prevent gum recession.
Flossing is just as important as brushing! Use dental floss to remove plaque and bacteria from between your teeth and along your gum line. Plaque and bacteria that accumulate along the gum line can lead to gum disease, so be sure to floss once a day. It is not necessary to floss more than that, since excess flossing can cause gum irritation.
Mouthwash can help remove plaque and bacteria from your mouth, and it’s a great way to freshen your breath. Look for a mouthwash that contains fluoride, and use it as directed.
Use the Right Toothpaste
When choosing a toothpaste, look for one that contains fluoride. Fluoride helps to prevent cavities and can also help to reverse early signs of gum disease.
Regular Teeth Cleanings
Even if you brush and floss regularly, it’s important to see your dentist every six months for a professional teeth cleaning. During a professional cleaning, your dentist will remove tartar from your teeth and check for signs of gum disease.
Smoking is a major risk factor for gum disease. If you smoke, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your oral health. There are many resources available to help you quit smoking, so talk to your doctor or dentist if you need help.
Staying hydrated is important for your overall health, and it’s also good for your gums. Drinking water helps to wash away plaque and bacteria, and it can also help to prevent gum disease.
Sugar is a major contributor to tooth decay, and it can also lead to gum disease. To help prevent gum disease, limit your intake of sugary foods and drinks.
Diabetes can increase your risk for gum disease, especially if you have high blood sugar levels, so it’s important to manage your diabetes if you have the condition. Be sure to see your doctor regularly and follow their recommendations.
In this blog, we discussed what gum disease is and ways to improve gum health. Remember, gum disease is preventable, so by following these tips, you can help prevent gum disease and keep your smile healthy! National Gum Care Month is a great time to start taking care of your gums, so don’t wait – start today!
Dr. Gerald Sisko graduated from Ohio State University College of Dentistry in 1987. He is an active member of the American Dental Association, the Ohio Dental Association, and the Akron Dental Society where he is currently holding a council position. He has had the honor and distinction of being awarded “TOP DENTIST” in Akron and Cleveland as well as Northeast Ohio for the last several consecutive years.