Gum disease isn’t just damaging to your teeth, but it may also increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Bright white teeth are the priority of many when it comes to oral hygiene, and gums often get overlooked because most of us are not aware of the important role they play in our health. So, while brushing teeth and flossing are integral to oral health, avoiding gum disease certainly pays off to keep yourself in good health.
Maintain proper oral hygiene
Hygiene is at the helm of healthy teeth and gums. Brushing and flossing help keep plaque from collecting on teeth and the gum line. Twice a day, in the morning and before going to bed, brush your teeth and along the gum line with fluoride toothpaste. Floss or use an interdental brush after eating sugary and starchy foods. Rinse your mouth with water or sip some water after having sugary or acidic drinks. Avoid brushing teeth too soon after having an acidic drink. You make the mistake of brushing the acid into the enamel, causing enamel damage.
If you have bridges, implants, or wide gaps between teeth, consider using interdental brushes or other tools recommended by a dentist to clean trapped food. It is important to properly clean dentures as plaque can easily build up on dentures, increasing the risk of gum disease.
Visit your dentist or dental hygienist periodically for regular dental cleanings. Professional cleaning can successfully remove plaque that is hard to clean with normal cleaning. Plaque accumulated on teeth and gums over time results in tartar, the main cause of gum disease.
Brush at least twice a day for 2 minutes each time
2×2 is the magic formula to keep your dental health in check. It is not enough to brush your teeth twice a day; it is also important to brush for 2 minutes. A 2009 study and a 2016 study show that increasing brushing time from 45 seconds to 2 minutes removed more plaque and influenced better oral hygiene.
- Brush with short strokes, holding your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums.
- Move your toothbrush, applying gentle pressure on the brush, back and forth along the outside surface of your teeth. Use this motion to brush along the chewing surfaces of your teeth.
- To brush the inner surface of teeth, hold the toothbrush vertically and brush up and down along the insides of your teeth.
- Brush your tongue, too, using a few back-to-front strokes.
- Do not rinse your mouth soon after brushing with either water or mouthwash. The concentrated fluoride will not have a chance to work if you do so. Spit out excess toothpaste and wait for at least 30 minutes before eating and drinking.
- Rinse your toothbrush well after brushing.
- Store your toothbrush in an upright position, leaving it to air dry rather than in a cupboard. Make sure brushes belonging to different family members do not touch the bristles.
Choose the right toothbrush
Most UK dental professionals recommend a medium-bristled toothbrush for adults. The bristles should not be hard enough to bruise gums. Along with the bristle density, a smaller head works well to reach all parts of the mouth to clean plaque and debris. A non-slip grip handle, a flexible neck, tapered or rectangular head, and rippled, flat, or dome-shaped bristles are features that bring comfort and efficacy in cleaning.
Some might benefit from an electric toothbrush. If you have limited manual dexterity, have an excessively stronger grip that results in brushing too vigorously, or have arthritis, a powered toothbrush is a good choice. Fun toothbrushes are enticing to children. These feature TV & cartoon characters they love.
Changing your toothbrush every 3 months helps maintain optimum cleaning functionality. Replacing the toothbrush after a dental/oral infection or viral disease ensures you won’t catch it again with your toothbrush.
Don’t skip flossing
Between your morning and night brushing, several meals, snacks, and drinks are consumed. Food residue, acid, and plaque collect on our teeth and gums throughout the day, forming bacteria. Your enamel can even be subject to damage during this time. Flossing removes plaque and food particles to avoid room for bacteria to thrive until you brush again. It is especially effective in removing plaque along the gum line to keep your gums healthy. Most floss or dental tape is made from nylon or Teflon. If you have gaps between teeth or gum recession, use a wide dental tape. If your teeth are close together, use a thin tape, sometimes made from Gore-Tex.
12-18 inches (30cm-45cm) of floss is adequate for single use. Slip the floss between teeth and gums, curving the floss around the base of each tooth, going beneath the gum line. Never force the floss, as it will cut and bruise the gums. Move from tooth to tooth flossing with 8 to 10 strokes, up and down to remove food and plaque.
Brush/rinse mouth after meals
When you eat, plaque forms, and that’s how nature works. So, even if you have squeaky clean teeth in the morning, every meal, food, and drink add plaque and residue to your clean teeth and mouth. Plaque contains bacteria, and it jumps into action when you eat sugar. This bacteria produces acids that attack your enamel for at least 20 minutes after the meal. Also, when plaque isn’t removed frequently, it can harden into tartar. When tartar builds up on gums, it leads to inflammation, and when left untreated, it causes gum disease.
Brushing immediately after eating sugary and acidic foods is not recommended. Rinsing your mouth or drinking water to wash away food particles will help your mouth to return to its natural pH value. You can brush your teeth afterward. Sometimes brushing is necessary when you are on a teeth whitening or Invisalign treatment. Just make sure you rinse and wait before doing any brushing.
Diet and nutrition
A healthy diet contains vegetables, fruits, good fats & oils, legumes, nuts, fatty fish, and plenty of water. Omega-3 fats help reduce symptoms of periodontal disease and cut down the risk of further infection. There’s no need to minimise natural sugars in fruit and milk. However, when fruits are blended or juiced for smoothies and drinks, sugars are released from their structure. Doctors recommend only 150ml of fruit juice or smoothie per day.
It’s important to limit sugar intake in the form of cakes, biscuits, sweets, chocolate, ice cream, jams, marmalade, and so on. When choosing bread and rice, go for wholegrain, and eat potatoes with their skin on whenever possible. Fibre-rich fruit and veg, cheese, milk, unsweetened yoghurt, green & black tea, sugarless chewing gum, onion, ginger, kiwi fruit, almonds, and celery promote healthy gums and teeth.
Regular dental checkups
Regular dental check-ups also make sure your oral health is monitored by a professional to prevent and treat dental problems. Catching early signs of gum disease before it spreads is the easiest way to prevent gum disease.
Knowing the initial signs and symptoms
Plaque and tartar are the chief cause of gum disease. When plaque hardens and becomes tartar, it can cause infections in the gums resulting in inflammation. It is easy to be unaware of gum disease as it is not always painful. Initial symptoms include red and swollen gums and bleeding gums after brushing or flossing. At this stage of gum disease, it’s called gingivitis.
If gingivitis goes untreated, the tissues and bone that support teeth get affected, causing periodontitis or periodontal disease. The symptoms of periodontitis include bad breath (halitosis), an unpleasant taste in the mouth, loose teeth, and gum abscesses. Advanced periodontitis is responsible for tooth loss.
A more serious condition called acute necrotising ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG) can develop suddenly in patients with periodontitis. It needs urgent medical care.
All it takes to treat mild cases of gum disease is a quick dental cleaning and continued good oral hygiene. However, once the disease progresses, it can damage your teeth, gums, and general health. So, make an appointment with your dentist today if you think you have gum disease and protect your oral health.
Your gums need your attention just as much as your teeth do. Practice the best oral hygiene regime you can and leave nothing to regret. Get the best oral care from experts and professionals. Your oral health is safe with mouth Dental, an advanced multi-clinic dental practice in South Quay, Churchill Place, and Nine Elms.