Periodontal disease is no joke. Though it may not seem serious at first, full-blown gum disease has been known to contribute to the development of several illnesses including heart disease, cancer, and even dementia. Starting as painless inflammation of gum tissue, what makes periodontal disease so dangerous is that it can reach an advanced stage before you notice, leading to gum recession, bone loss, and eventually tooth loss.
To save yourself from the negative impacts of gum disease, the best prevention methods start at home. Here are four tips to stave off gum disease today.
Plaque is oral bacteria living on your teeth. It can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Brushing is a great way to remove plaque. The American Dental Association recommends brushing at least twice a day will help keep your mouth clean and healthy.
To specifically address gum disease, brush at a forty-five degree angle where tooth meets the gum line. Try to brush for two minutes or two rotations of “happy birthday.” If you are brushing long enough, but teeth aren’t getting clean, consider an electric toothbrush. Overall, science doesn’t support the benefits of electric toothbrushes, but for some people they are effective.
While brushing is incredibly important, flossing can help to clean the most susceptible areas of the mouth, in between teeth, and below the gum line. The only caveat is that you must practice correct technique. As it turns out, many Americans either don’t floss or don’t know how to floss.
To practice correct technique, use between 18 and 24 inches of floss, wrap the ends of the floss around your index and middle fingers, hold the floss tightly around each tooth, and move the floss back and forth in a “waxing” motion, dipping below the gum line periodically.
Eat a Healthy Diet
The cause of most gum disease is plaque that has hardened into tartar. This provides shelter for oral bacteria, which produce harmful acid that eats away at tooth enamel and harms surrounding gum tissue. Plaque forms from bacteria that is already present within our mouths. When bacteria feeds on carbohydrates, especially sugars, it thrives, leading to more plaque.
By limiting foods high in sugar and carbohydrates such as white bread, pastries, and candy, we can limit the amount of plaque that forms in our mouths.
Sometimes we can’t do everything on our own, which is why we should visit the dentist at least twice a year. At your regularly scheduled checkup, your dentist can check for gum disease. If it’s present, treatment may be as simple as a change in oral hygiene. Although advanced cases of gum disease are treatable, the more advanced the disease becomes, the more costly and sometimes painful treatment becomes.
If it has been a while since your last checkup, schedule an appointment as soon as possible. If you’re looking for a general dentist in Anchorage, please call (907) 349-0022 today for an appointment at Excellence in Dentistry.