Tips for preventing gum disease
Gum disease, also known as periodontitis, is a condition where the inner layer of the gum and bone pull away from your teeth, forming pockets. Not to be mistaken with gingivitis (gum inflammation), this disease is very serious and can even lead to tooth loss. Gum disease may even prevent you from wearing even the best clear braces on the market, further hampering you from getting a healthy smile. Therefore, it is extremely important that you do whatever you can to prevent it from happening. Preventing gum disease is all about knowing what causes it and adopting a few tips from oral health experts. And that is precisely what this article is going to be about!
What causes gum disease?
The primary cause of gum disease is, ordinarily enough, plaque. That being said, there are several other factors that you need to have in mind. First, any hormonal changes will make your gums more sensitive and prone to periodontitis. This includes puberty, pregnancy, menstruation, etc. Second, any illnesses that interfere with the body’s immune system also contribute to gum disease. Of course, since plaque is the main “culprit”, poor oral hygiene and bad habits (mainly smoking) all increase the risk. And, of course, age affects dental health as well as vitamin deficiencies, particularly vitamin C.
Lastly, any medications that reduce your saliva or cause abnormal gum tissue growth will help cause gum disease. Saliva is extremely important, as it protects both gums and teeth by helping fight off bacteria.
9 Tips for preventing gum disease
- Maintain regular dentist appointments
- Stop smoking
- Maintain proper hydration
- Do not slack on good oral hygiene
- Try not to clench and grind your teeth
- Drink green tea
- Get more vitamin C
- Eat healthily
- Reduce stress
Preventing gum disease is all about being mindful of it most of the time. Remember that the primary cause is plaque buildup. If you do all you can to remove it, you will significantly reduce the risk of developing periodontitis. With this in mind, you will want to be very careful if you need to be fitted with teeth braces. While there are many long term health benefits of braces, most brace types will make it more difficult to brush and floss your teeth. And that will inevitably increase the risk of developing gum disease. You will want to select your braces very carefully if you want to maximize their effect and avoid gum disease at the same time. Aside from that, let’s see what else you can do.
Visit your dentist regularly
Probably the easiest way to prevent gum disease is to maintain regular (and frequent) dentist appointments. You can have your dentist clean your teeth and remove all plaque buildup. Furthermore, your dentist will spot even the earliest signs of gum inflammation (gingivitis) and stop it from developing into gum disease, as well as spot any warning signs that you need braces. Your dentist is also the best source of personalized oral health information, as every person is unique.
But if you absolutely abhor the idea of frequent visits to the dentist’s office, at least be on the lookout for common signs of gum disease. Here are a few of them to be mindful of:
- Any changes in your bite
- Tender, swollen, or red gums
- Chronic bad breath
- Any pus pockets between gums and teeth
- Your gums bleed during brushing/flossing
Additionally, you will want to visit your dentist if you have partial dentures and notice them fitting differently, or have any loose or separating teeth. Your dentist will also make sure that you know that:
Tobacco is bad
Tobacco products have a serious negative impact on our overall health. According to a NIM (National Library of Medicine) study, smoking and periodontal disease go hand-in-hand. The study also mentions that periodontal treatment has a lower success rate in smokers than in non-smokers. Therefore, if you want to minimize your chances of developing and treating gum disease, you may want to quit smoking.
Proper hydration is very important
Remember how we mentioned that saliva has a protective effect on gums and teeth? And do you know what makes you produce more saliva? That’s right, hydration! Drinking plenty of water will help with preventing gum disease and improve your overall health at the same time!
The best way of preventing gum disease is good oral hygiene
To start with, you will want to brush your teeth twice a day. After you are comfortable with that, add further cleaning once a day by either flossing or using an interdental cleaner. Additionally, try to focus on the area around the gumline when you brush. This is the most neglected brushing area, after all, and is one of the prime places where gingivitis starts. You will also want to have two toothbrushes and alternate between them for maximum effect.
When it comes to your choice of toothbrush, there is no difference in effectiveness between an electrical and a manual one. What is important is that you brush properly and maintain your oral health. Whichever brush allows you to accomplish that easier is the right brush for you. The ideal way to brush your teeth is by having the brush at a 45-degree angle to your teeth and brushing both the teeth and the gums at the same time (half of the toothbrush is used for teeth, the other half for gums). Lastly, you will want to make sure that your toothbrushes are germ-free. Do not store them in closed containers, as moisture can promote germ growth. If you have two toothbrushes, make sure to store them separately.
Avoid clenching/grinding your teeth
When you clench or grind your teeth, you place undue pressure on the supporting tissue. This increases the rate at which the tissue is destroyed and can easily lead to gum disease. Most of the time, you will do these actions without any conscious effort. What you need to do is realize that you are doing it and that it is bad for you.
Green tea can help
An excellent way of reducing the chance of getting gum disease is to simply drink green tea. The reason why green tea (and to some extent, black tea) is so effective is the fact that it contains polyphenols. These antioxidant compounds will prevent plaque from sticking to your teeth. Furthermore, tea polyphenols will help protect you from diabetes, cancer, and a number of cardiovascular and neurological diseases, according to another NIM study. All in all, drink green tea, it is good for you!
As we’ve mentioned before, vitamin C deficiency is one of the leading causes of gum disease. Therefore, all you need to do is make sure that you are taking your vitamins regularly. The best way is to eat food that is rich in vitamin C, such as citrus (lemon, kiwi, orange, grapefruit), strawberries, white potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, bell peppers, etc. But you can also take vitamin C supplements. Just make sure that you are not overshooting the daily limit of 2,000 mg. While taking in more vitamin C than that is not harmful, it may cause headaches, diarrhea, and nausea. The recommended daily dose, however, is between 100 and 200 mg for most people.
Maintain a healthy diet
The absolutely best way of preventing gum disease is to take care of what you eat. If you manage to avoid sugary foods and drinks, you will significantly reduce the chance of gum disease. The reason why this is so is the fact that bacteria feed on sugars from your food. Furthermore, creating a healthy, balanced, and nutritious diet will enhance your immune system which helps fight any infection, not only gum disease.
Try to reduce your stress levels
While it is impossible to quantify the effect that stress has on us, it is undeniable that the effect is quite large. Therefore, you will want to try and minimize your subjection to as many stressors as you can manage. If you find yourself constantly stressed out, maybe it is time to reconsider your lifestyle. By reducing your stress levels not only will you help with preventing gum disease but you will also feel a significant impact on your overall health. Stress is the “silent killer“, after all, and oftentimes you start to understand its effect once you get rid of it. Analyze your lifestyle and see if you can get rid of a few stressors. Or change things a bit so you are not so stressed out. You will be extremely glad you did so!
If you need more information on oral issues and solutions, feel free to explore the Consumer Opinion Guide knowledge database! We have answers to everything you might need to know, from invisible braces to coping with dental anxiety. And much more.