Did you know that according to the CDC, 47.2% of Americans over the age of 30 are affected by some form of gum disease? Part of the reason why this number is so high is because many people who have gum disease are not even aware they have it until they visit their dentist. Although gum disease does produce symptoms, these symptoms are not always noticed right away, which means that gum disease is likely to progress before it is diagnosed.
There are two different forms of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the mild form of the disease that many people are unaware they have. It can produce mild symptoms like the beginnings of gum recession, red gums, and gums that bleed easily. Periodontitist is the advanced form of gum disease and is usually the stage where most cases are diagnosed. With periodontitis, the symptoms can become more disruptive causing pain, tenderness, and even tooth sensitivity from exposed tooth roots.
Just as your dentist is dedicated to preventing cavities from forming in your teeth, they are also dedicated to preventing gum disease. Luckily, there are things that you can do to improve your gum health and decrease the risk of developing gum disease. These things include:
Brushing Twice a Day
Brushing twice a day for two minutes at a time is not only beneficial to prevent cavities from forming, but it can also help to reduce the chances of developing gum disease. This is because brushing your teeth helps to remove excess plaque from the surface and along the gum line. Plaque houses thousands of bacteria responsible for both tooth decay and gum disease, so removing it is an important preventative step.
However, brushing your teeth does not always remove plaque from hard to reach places in your mouth. This is where flossing comes in. Flossing daily, preferably at night just before you brush your teeth and go to bed, helps to remove plaque and food debris from between your teeth and just below the gum line. This prevents plaque from accumulating along the gums and forming pockets of bacteria. However, to prevent irritating your gums it is important to only floss once a day.
In addition to brushing and flossing, another thing you can do is to use mouthwash after meals. There are several over the counter mouthwashes that are designed to decrease the risk of gum disease by eliminating plaque and preventing it from accumulating. However, it is important to note that mouthwash should never be used as a replacement for brushing or flossing. Instead, it is meant to be used as an additional hygiene method.
Keep Up on Dental Cleanings
In addition to proper daily oral hygiene, you will also want to be sure that you visit your dentist every six months for a dental cleaning. In some cases, they may recommend coming in more frequently. Dental cleanings are important because they remove plaque and hardened plaque (tartar) from the surface of your teeth and along the gum line. Tartar can only be removed during a dental cleaning since it is too hard to be removed with a toothbrush.
There are several reasons why you should quit smoking, however one reason is because smoking dramatically increases your risk of developing gum disease. It also makes it harder for your gums to heal, which means gum disease is likely to advance quickly.