How to Prevent Gum Disease 

How to Prevent Gum Disease 

Brushing and flossing your teeth is an easy task for most people. The part that millions of Americans struggle with is sticking to this daily routine. Although gum disease is preventable, hundreds of thousands of people are newly diagnosed each year. So, is there a trick to how to prevent gum disease? Your local Denver, CO dentist, Dr. O'Grady, shares everything you need to know. 

What is Gum Disease? 

Gum disease is caused by bacteria that are present in plaque and tartar. Plaque is a sticky film that forms on your teeth. It's mainly made up of bacteria, mucus, food, and other particles. When the plaque is not replaced, it hardens into tartar, which gives the bacteria a home, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). Plaque and tartar bacteria cause gum inflammation, called gingivitis. Unfortunately, you can only get tartar removed by a dentist or dental hygienist. That's why it's important to visit your dentist every six months. 

Stages of Gum Disease 

Gingivitis - In this early stage, raw, swollen, tender gums bleed easily. If detected early, it can be reversed with proper brushing and flossing.

Mild Periodontitis - The next stage has increased inflammation and bleeding around the teeth. It occurs when the bacterial poisons in the plaque and the defenses of your own body begin to break down the gum connection to the tooth. This allows the gums to pull out of the teeth and make pockets of the contaminated stuff. Early bone loss around the teeth can be noticeable. Treatment at this stage is important to prevent further bone loss and tooth loss.

Advanced Periodontitis - This stage further deepens the gum pockets and the heavy destruction of the bone that keeps the teeth in place. At this point, the teeth can become so loose that they need to be removed if periodontal treatment does not restore bone support.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

Most patients don't notice symptoms of gum disease until it's significantly progressed. The following are some gum disease symptoms Dr. O'Grady recommends watching out for.

  • Chronic bad breath
  • Red, swollen gums
  • The gums that hold the teeth away (receding gums)
  • Pain as you chew
  • Loose or sensitive teeth and gums

Risk Factors of Gum Disease 

As mentioned before, gum disease is very common. Although it can be prevented, some people are more likely to develop gum disease based on the following factors:

  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Medications
  • Inheritance

Preventing Gum Disease 

Good oral hygiene, such as brushing and flossing at least twice a day, can help avoid dental problems such as tooth infections, cavities, and loss of teeth. Dr. Kim, a family dentist in Lexington, KY, agrees that a visit to the dental office at least twice a year is necessary for good oral health. It doesn't matter how good you clean. Tartar and plaque will still build up and cause gum problems.

Toothbrushing Tips

Brush in the morning before returning to bed, using a soft-bristled brush and toothpaste containing fluoride if you can afford to buy and use an electric toothbrush. Place your toothbrush against your gums at an angle of 45° and brush each tooth 15 to 20 times. Use quick strokes to move the brush gently. Brush the outer tooth surfaces with quick back-and-forth strokes. Clean the inner upper-front teeth by brushing vertically against them with quick, downward strokes and using quick, upward strokes for lower inner teeth. Replace your toothbrush when it's used or sprayed every 3 or 4 months, experts suggest. You can also have a fresh toothbrush if you have had a cough, strep throat, or similar illness. Note: Do not cover your toothbrush or store it in a closed jar. This can promote the growth of microorganisms.

Floss Carefully

Flossing helps remove plaque and food particles that are trapped between your teeth and under your gums. Cut off about 18 inches of floss and keep firmly between your thumbs and forefingers. Place it between your teeth and gently slide it up and down. When the floss hits the line of gum, curve it around one tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, move the floss with up-and-down gestures, make sure you go under the gum. Repeat this procedure on the rest of your teeth, remembering to float the back of your back teeth.

Watch What You Eat

Watching what you eat can help with preventing gum disease. Avoid sugary drinks and snacks. Dr. O'Grady recommends having plenty of high-calcium foods such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. Calcium preserves the bone in which the roots of the tooth are lodged. This is especially relevant for older adults and children during the growth of both baby and adult teeth. If you're a heavy snacker, try brushing more than twice a day. 

Visit Dr. O'Grady

Taking care of your teeth is key to a happy and healthy smile. You must follow a good oral hygiene routine and visit your dentist for annual dental cleanings and checkups. If you are looking for a new dentist in Denver, Colorado, or are an existing patient who needs to schedule an appointment, contact OG Dental today!