You already know that you need to take good care of your teeth, but taking care of your gums is equally, if not more, important. Gums are the support system for your teeth, bones, and connecting tissue. Without healthy gums, your teeth wouldn’t have a place to thrive. Unhealthy gums could lead to gum disease caused by plaque that builds up on the gum line. However, there are many preventative steps you can take to keep your gums healthy.
Flossing at least once a day can help protect the health of your gums. Flossing removes plaque beyond the toothbrush’s reach. When flossing, make sure you don’t push into the gums because this could damage them. To learn about flossing properly, visit our article Proper Flossing Technique
Don’t be Afraid of the Dentist
Get regular dental checkups and cleaning every 6-8 months. Professional cleanings are the only way to remove tartar. Because gum disease is usually painless unless advanced, regular checkups enable detection of the early stages. This allows the symptoms to be treated and could reverse the damage.
Don’t smoke. If you do smoke, consider quitting. Smoking has a strong association with the onset of gum disease. Data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that smoking lowers the abilities of the immune system, making it harder to fight gum infections.
Brush Your Teeth Often
Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Brushing is important because it helps remove plaque, food, and bacteria that are in your mouth. When you brush your teeth, there are many ways to achieve optimal brushing. If able, use a battery operated toothbrush because the vibrations help remove buildup more thoroughly than a manual toothbrush. Make sure the bristles on the toothbrush are soft because medium or firm bristles could damage your gums, making them more susceptible to infection. Replace your toothbrush every 2-3 months to prevent bacteria growth. When brushing, use a fluoride toothpaste and brush gently at a 45 degree angle with 15-20 strokes on each tooth. Be sure to get your tongue and the roof of your mouth because they also collect bacteria.
Rinse daily with a therapeutic mouthwash. Using an antibacterial mouthwash helps remove debris between teeth and kills harmful bacteria. Don’t rinse your mouth after you use a mouthwash because it will remove some of the bacteria fighting ingredients. Avoid mouthwashes with alcohol because it can cause more damage to your gums by drying out your mouth.
Consider Your Diet
Finally, incorporate gum friendly foods into your diet. There are many foods that you should eat and avoid to help keep your gums in good health. Calcium rich foods such as milk are not only good for your teeth and bones, they contain a protein called casein that reduces acidity in your mouth. The saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is one that can also apply to your dental health. This is because the act of eating an apple cleans teeth and helps loosen plaque. Leafy greens are also good to eat because they promote saliva production which neutralizes mouth bacteria. Onions might be harsh on the breath, but they have an antimicrobial ingredient that kills a specific strain of bacteria that is linked to gum disease. Avoid sticky sweets and if you chew gum, make sure it is sugar free. If your sweet tooth is telling you otherwise, be sure to rinse your mouth after you eat. Drinking water and staying hydrated is also important because it keeps your mouth bacteria in balance.
Following these steps can help you keep your gums healthy and your smile bright. If you would like more information about protecting the health of your gums and preventing gum disease, or would like to make an appointment, please contact the office of Dr. Larry D. Molenda, D.D.S., located in San Marcos, TX.