You don't like what you see lately: after brushing your teeth, you notice that your gums are sore, swollen, or possibly even bleeding! You figure you have been brushing too hard, or maybe it was something you ate. But it could be something else - like gum disease.
What is gum disease? Actually, gum disease can take the form of a number of different conditions. The first and most common form of gum disease is gingivitis, a minor irritation on the gum tissue (known as “gingiva”) reacting negatively to debris, food, calculus, plaque, and other irritating things in between your gums and the roots of your teeth. As a result, gum tissues become red and swollen, and even bleed when brushing and flossing! If gingivitis goes untreated, it takes the form of periodontal disease, a more serious form of gum disease which involves the loss of bone that holds the teeth firmly in place.
Fortunately, you can stop gum disease in its tracks. Here are several important gum disease prevention tips to remember:
Do the dental “basics”:
The first gum disease prevention tip is the obvious one: take proper care of your mouth. That means regular brushing and flossing, and using mouthwash. The first two will remove food caught between your teeth and gums that can irritate tissue, and mouthwash will help reduce any bacteria that can further affect your gums.
Aside from direct dental care, another gum disease prevention strategy is to maintain good overall health. This includes eating adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables, consuming plenty of fluoridated water and calcium-rich food and drinks, and avoiding sticky and sugary snacks. Regular exercise will help keep your body in prime working condition, increase blood flow, and strengthen your muscles and nerves. Finally, because it creates hard plaque that remains on your teeth which can develop into gum disease, it is also recommended that you stop smoking. Better body health means better dental health.
Visit your dentist
Your dentist can help you maintain good dental health, prevent issues before they start, and catch minor issues before they become major ones.
Visit your doctor
Gum disease may occur in your mouth, but did you know that certain medications can increase or hasten your risk of getting gum disease? Additionally, certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, can also increase your risk of getting gum disease. Therefore, by visiting your doctor, you can become informed about non-dental risk factors.
Recognize the signs
While prevention is definitely the best strategy for avoiding gum disease, even the best actions cannot always halt it. Consequently, you need to know the symptoms. These include swollen, red, and bleeding gums, chewing that is painful, sensitive or loose teeth, actual loss of teeth, and receding gums. Although these symptoms don't automatically mean you have gum disease, they are issues that can hint at it, and need to be addressed.
Though it may seem like one more health issue to add to your plate, you have the power to stop it. These gum disease prevention tips above not only will help you decrease your risk, but will also help you maintain overall health. Now that's a great reason to smile!