Gum disease prevention starts with you, but your dentist is also a key player in keeping gum disease at bay. Long-term oral health has been clearly linked to long-term overall health by multiple studies, so this makes gum disease prevention even more imperative. The beginning stages of gum disease involve an overgrowth of bacteria in your mouth. Visiting your dentist for regular checkups isn’t enough to prevent this bacterial overgrowth.
Here are some things you can do to protect your long-term gum health:
- Brushing: Removing the bacteria and plaque from each tooth takes time. Don’t rush as you brush two times each day. Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle to your teeth and focus on the area where the tooth meets the gum, as this is where bacteria build up over time. Short, circular motions are most effective. Your dentist may also recommend an electric toothbrush for enhanced cleaning.
- Flossing: Flossing removes food particles and bacteria from between your teeth.
- Eating: The bacteria in your mouth feed on starch and sugar and create acids as a byproduct. These acids cause damage to the hard enamel layer of your teeth. Reducing the amount of these types of foods you eat can reduce the bacterial counts in your mouth.
It is easy to overlook the early stages of gum disease (known as gingivitis) because it is often painless. During this time, your body grows additional blood vessels in your mouth and the bacteria attack these vessels. Your gums may look more red and swollen, and may be more prone to bleeding. The condition is also easily reversible in the early stages, which is why it is good to have your dentist check your teeth regularly.