You may be surprised to learn just how important your gums are to maintaining your overall health. In fact, it has been proven that gum disease has been linked to a number of serious illnesses, including stroke, respiratory illness, heart disease, and even complications with pregnancy. Many people are unaware that they are even suffering from this “silent disease,” as the illness is relatively asymptomatic until its later stages. According to the American Dental Association, 75% of people over the age of 35 in the United States are experiencing some form of gum disease. Luckily, gum disease is easily prevented. Simply follow these five steps to keep your gums in good health.
1. Brush and floss regularly.
The earliest stage of periodontal (gum) disease is known as gingivitis—an infection of the gums. Gingivitis is caused by bacteria in plaque that releases harmful acids onto the teeth and gums. Preventing the damaging effects of plaque is actually quite easy with a solid dental hygiene routine. We recommend that you brush at least twice a day, and after meals when possible. You should also make certain that you floss at least once per day. While many people find this component of their dental hygiene routine tedious, it is a critical step in maintaining your oral health. Flossing helps you to remove food debris and plaque that is trapped between the teeth and gums, and can protect your gums from gingivitis down the line.
2. Swap out your toothbrush.
There are a number of reasons to ensure that you regularly exchange your toothbrush for a new one. According to the American Dental Association, it is recommended that you swap out your toothbrush at least every three months. For starters, your toothbrush is not nearly as effective at removing plaque and debris after three months when the bristles have become worn and frayed. Secondly, your toothbrush can become a breeding ground for bacteria over time, which can ultimately lead to an infection of the gums. Therefore, it is important that you buy a new toothbrush regularly to keep your gums in good health.
3. Quit smoking.
Because smoking weakens your immune system, it has been proven to be a leading cause of gum disease. When you smoke, your body has a more difficult time warding off infections, including infections of the gums. Worse still, gum disease is much more difficult to treat for smokers than for non-smokers. Therefore, we highly recommend that you quit smoking in order to protect your oral health.
4. Maintain a low-sugar diet.
The bacteria in plaque feeds on the sugar in your food. In return, it releases harmful acids that wear away at your gums, causing infection. In order to prevent this process from occurring, we recommend skipping the candy, sodas, and juices for more nutritious options. If you do consume sugar, be sure to brush your teeth immediately afterwards to protect your gums.
5. Visit your dentist every six months.
The best way to treat gum disease is prevention. At your regular dental check-ups, your dentist can check your gums to ensure you’re in good health. Also, by visiting your dentist routinely, they will be able to treat gum disease in the earliest stages if they should detect any issues. Finally, your dental hygienist will perform a thorough professional cleaning to remove plaque and tartar buildup (a calcified substance that cannot be removed by a toothbrush or floss) to keep your gums in good shape.
To schedule your next routine dental check-up and prevent gum disease, call Countryside Dental Group today!